New Zealand calf feeder innovation sold in 18 countries within year of winning Fieldays competition
A calf feeder now selling in 18 countries is yet another farming invention spawned from a NZ Agricultural Fieldays competition that has become a commercial success.
Less than a year after winning a major category in the Fieldays Innovation Awards, Cambridge couple Ursula and Mark Haywood have commercialised their TrustiTuber and FlexiTuber feeders in countries including the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan.
Ursula Haywood said their company, Antahi Innovations Ltd, had gone from strength to strength after the launch of its "kinder" calf feeders at last year's awards at Mystery Creek near Hamilton.
Haywood, a Tirau dairy veterinarian, came up with the idea three years ago after observing farmers during calving seasons. Many farmers had told her that they disliked tube feeding.
"There is some unforgiving equipment out there and I thought it could be done better. As a vet I knew about animal anatomy and I wanted to make a tube feeder that would be more comfortable and safer for the calves."
The feeder products took more than two years to develop and have a flexible tube and easy-swallow safety tip designed to flex around a calf's airway.
Haywood said they had seen a 90 per cent reduction in calf stress when their feeders were used.
Making tube feeding easier on calves also made it easier and less unpleasant for farmers, encouraging them to treat sick or weak calves earlier, she said.
They received $5000 in legal advice and support from top Hamilton law firm Tompkins Wake after winning a commercialisation award.
Haywood said the support, mentoring and networking opportunities from the competition had been invaluable for their business.
Crowds usually throng at the popular Innovations Centre during the four-day event which last year attracted 130,684 visitors.
Among inventions in the past to capture the public imagination have been a Ranger-2WD lightweight electric farm bike, a composite rotary milking platform, artificial pollinators and a kindling splitting device by teen Ayla Hutchinson.
Entries are being accepted until May 1 from rural inventors and innovators for this year's awards in the Fieldays from June 14-17.
Fieldays Innovations event manager Gail Hendricks said the awards had been going for more than 40 years to celebrate and support the most innovative agricultural inventions which could lead change in the rural sector.
Innovations typically came from fields including dairy and dry stock farming, horticulture, information and communication technology, cloud and mobile-based software, animal health and genetics, water and waste management, environment and clean-tech, animal and farm management and farm safety, she said.
Judges consider the inventiveness, design and originality of an innovation as well as commercial opportunities, intellectual property protection and its benefit to New Zealand agriculture.
The main categories are innovation of the year including the sub categories for grassroots and established companies, innovations ready to hit the market and the international innovation of the year. Other award categories include the young inventor of the year, technology innovation, commercialisation and intellectual property.