Lifetime devotion to jersey cattle

Last updated 10:00 24/12/2013
Gerald Gunther
Gerald Gunther

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Southland lost a unique farming personality with the recent death of well-known jersey cattle breeder Gerald (Gus) Gunther He was 77.

Gerald arrived in Southland as a 2-week-old baby to settle at Underwood with his parents Richard (Dick) and Mona Gunther.

He was educated at Wallacetown , Waikiwi and Southland Boys High Schools.

His father's family were the Mosleys of Sheffield, England, well-known silversmiths who developed and produced the first stainless steel cutlery.

Gerald was never interested in that as a career, his life was always to be farming. At the time of his marriage to Annette Holley he was developing a high-producing dairy unit at Mokotua where the foundation for their jersey stud was laid.

Gerald also mustered on horse back most of the Waituna Lagoon area for the Lands and Survey Department in the 1950s and 60s .

In 1982 Gerald had the opportunity to buy Spring Terrace at Wallacetown, the farm he had loved all his life.

At the time the farm was in grain and he and Annette and the children worked hard to convert it back to the dairy farm it had once been.

It was to become a beautifully maintained property with a high-producing herd of excellent conformation and temperament with exceptionally well-attached udders. They were most attractive cattle.

The stud prefix was changed to Spring Terrace with the blessing of the previous owners Roddy and Alice Gray.

Gerald Gunther was a show man, a breeder of fine cattle, a breed judge and classifier.

Successful in the show ring, he missed showing only when his health was frail and he took pains to hide that fact by stating he never had anything fit to exhibit.

His most notable judging experiences were several times on Jersey Island, the home of the breed, Devon County Show and the Royal Cornwall Show where he and Annette were presented to Prince Charles, who held up official proceedings to discuss with Gerald cattle breeding and farming styles in New Zealand.

Semen from Gerald's bull Ivanhoe Red Triumph was sold in nine countries and buyers included the Queen for use in her Royal Windsor herd.

A man who could grow grass even in adverse growing conditions without relying on urea, he was invited to the United States speak on pasture management.

He and Annette travelled widely with most trips including jersey cattle in the itinerary.

Inevitably his lifelong poor health deteriorated to the point where he had to sell his beloved cows. His failing health meant that his physical farming activity was limited to dairy grazing.

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The herd was sold to Joanne and Darrin Crack and are milked on the original Gunther farm at Mokotua.

Gerald was for many years liaison committee chairman for the Makarewa River and as staff at Environment Southland can testify he was determined to maintain the river in good health.

Gerald didn't hold much with committees or meetings - his passion was Spring Terrace and his "golden girls".

His forthright manner ensured no one was left in any doubt as to his views.

Any former employee Gerald felt had the necessary passion for farming was a recipient of his knowledge and wisdom. Several of these former lads were present to farewell and thank him.

Gerald Gunther was farewell by family and friends in fitting manner from his beloved Spring Terrace in a private service.

One of his former show team - Spring Terrace Trim Eva - was there representing the cattle he loved to breed.

Gerald is survived by his wife Annette, three children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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