Friday, 26 December 2014

1997 / 2009 The Year of the Ox.

The Year of the Ox

          People born in the Year of the Ox are natural leaders – dependable, calm, modest and hardworking. Just like the animal they represent, they are tireless in their work and capable of enduring any hardship without complaint. They’re also known for their intelligence, although they can be strong-minded and stubborn, and they hate to fail or be opposed. Famous Oxen include Napoleon Bonaparte, Vincent Van Gogh and Walt Disney.

          In 1997, New Zealand first issued a miniature sheet for the 11th Asian International Philatelic Exhibition. Three stamps from the Cattle of New Zealand issue was included in this sheet as it was also intended to celebrate the Chinese New Year, in this case the Year of the Ox.

          Twelve years later New Zealand again celebrated the Year of the Ox, this time with a set of three stamps and what had by then become the annual miniature sheet. This is the purpose of this post to look at both these issues in greater detail than they were presented in our Chinese New Year collection.
         I hope to return to this post in another twelve years and add the third stamp issue celebrating the Year of the Ox. Meanwhile you can view our Chinese New Year Collection.

2009  The Year of the Ox.
 2009 saw a major change in the Chinese New Year series. First there was a new miniature sheet style. Secondly there was a change in the stamp sets as well. Now the stamps were clearly featuring the lunar year, a step forward for the stamp design but I believe a step back for the miniature sheet.  NZ Post describes them:-

The stamps are a celebration of the occasion and so much more: they are a reflection of our increasingly multicultural nation; and recognition of the strong and enduring links that Chinese communities have forged with Kiwis nationwide.

50c – Year of the Ox                                                                            $1.00 – Ox  

$2.00 – Auckland Harbour Bridge.

As was said above, these three stamps are symbolic of both Chinese Year of the Ox and Chinese in New Zealand society. The lower 50c value show the Chinese symbol or latter character for the Ox. The second value is a graphic of an Ox. In 2010 this stamp will be replaced with two stamps showing a paper cut-out and a graphic design. The highest value $2.00 is what will become a regular stamp showing a famous New Zealand icon. In this case it was the Auckland Harbour Bridge.   

 In another new development, a new miniature sheet was designed to blend in with the new stamps. It is a very simple design relying on colour to bring out the colours of the three stamps. With this issue a second series of 12 Chinese New Year Issues was underway.

1997 - The Year of the Ox
Cattle of New Zealand.
1997 was the first year in which New Zealand celebrated a Chinese Lunar Year. Since it was the Year of the Ox the stamps depicted various cattle breeds which have become important to farmers in New Zealand.
Notice that none of these six stamps mention Chinese New Year. They would not have been associated with this event if it hadn't been for three of these values being used in the miniature sheet for the 11th Asian Philatelic Exhibition held in Hong Kong.  

Holstein-Friesian - 40c.                                                Jersey - 80c.

These cattle were first imported as Dutch Friesian in 1884, and have been infused with American Holstein genes and new bloodlines of Friesian from the United Kingdom and North America. This is the most common breed of dairy cattle in New Zealand, with the highest average milk production of all dairy breeds. The milk generally has a lower fat and protein content. Holstein-Friesians are large cattle that require plenty of feed, and accordingly are suited to flat, quality pasture. This type of cow is very adaptable to a wide range of environmental conditions and pasture quality. They did very well in the droughts that have hit Northland recently.

This breed was first imported from Jersey, one of the Channel Islands, in 1862. The fawn-coloured animals with dark faces and muzzles possess curved horns and large dark eyes. The jersey is one of the smallest dairy breeds but produces high-fat, protein-rich milk. The breed usually features a docile temperament and easily handled animal. Its light weight reduces damage to pasture especially during the wetter periods of winter. The Jersey is a very efficient feed converter having very good milk production when compared to per kilogram of body weight and hectare of pasture. 

Which is best?
Most dairy farmers in New Zealand will run a herd of either Jersey, Friesian or a mix of both. This is determined by a number of factors, the primary one being the dairy factory you supply. Its the old business requirement, you supply what your customer wants. In my case we supply to the major milk company Fonterra which has factories all over New Zealand. As the factory closest to us produces milk powder the requirement is for larger quantities of lower fat milk which would point to us useing only Friesian cows. But its not as easy as that as a certain requirement of fat and protein must be included as well. This determines our final mix of 75% Friesian and 25% Jersey. Another company farm in MataMata supplies a cheese maker so their herd is completely Jersey.
This strategy was set long before I became manager here, and all I have done is continue to increase the herd to full capacity (1200 head) while maintaining that balance. The problem with a mixed herd is that the lighter, smaller Jersey can be bullied by the larger Friesian so we have tended to keep the younger, older and lighter cows separated from the main herd. 
Our primary herd of approx. 900 head. The secondary herd, not seen here, numbers approx. 300 head.
 Notice the mix of Friesian, Jersey and cross-breeds.

Simmental - $1.00.                                                 Ayrshire - $1.20.

The Simmental is a relatively new arrival (1971) on the New Zealand beef scene, in spite of being one of the world's oldest breeds (and numerically the second largest). Originating in the Simmen Valley in Switzerland, the breed was popular all over Europe for its multi talents of producing beef and dairy products, as well as working as a draught animal. The breed is well muscled with excellent growth rates and lean high-yielding carcasses, and has become popular for cross-breeding in many parts of New Zealand.
This breed has been crossed with animals in our herd to increase milk production although I don't run any full Simmental currently.

The Ayrshire was the second breed of cattle to arrive in New Zealand, arriving in 1848 from the Scottish district of Ayr. The cattle are of medium stature and have upwardly curving horns, although it is common practice to dehorn animals when calves. The Ayrshire is found mainly in southern parts of New Zealand, as they are ideally suited to the rigorous, rough county, while being high yielding milk producers. I do not know much about this breed not having handled them.

Angus - $1.50.                                                 Hereford - $1.80.

The pure black Angus breed, formerly known as Aberdeen Angus, after the Scottish county from which it originated, was first imported into New Zealand in 1863. The Angus is now the most numerous breed in the national beef herd. This breed enjoys a reputation for producing fine-grained beef, even from hilly country with scant pasture. Development of the breed over the last 30 years has seen an increase in the stature and frame of the cattle, improving the meat-to-bone ratio and decreasing fat cover.

One of the first English breeds to be developed, the Hereford was in much demand from the 17th century onwards as a yoke oxen and for its milk and beef production. Arriving from the Herefordshire region in 1868, the distinctively-coloured deep red cattle with white face, brisket, belly and legs, spread quickly throughout New Zealand. The Hereford is a beef producer that can climb and forage over the rough terrain unsuited to the dairy breeds.

Which is Best?
This is again determined by the type of country and the farmer concerned. Both breeds are proven to be good beef producers and will do well in rougher country than their dairy cousins. On this farm the choice is Hereford, a decision made before I came here. I have been happy with their performance and so see no need to change at this time.

My friend Mr Red. He likes a hug and snack.

1997 Cattle of New Zealand FDC.

 11th Asian Philatelic Exhibition.
 Hong Kong '97 Cattle Miniature Sheet.
Issued 12 February 1997.
The 11th Asian International Stamp Exhibition took place at the Hong Kong Convention Centre from 12 to 16 February 1997.
The event marked the first time an international stamp exhibition had been held in Hong Kong under the patronage of FIAP, philately's international governing body. New Zealand Post produced a miniature sheet incorporating three 1997 Cattle of New Zealand stamps together with the lunar figure of the ox.

The 11th Asian International Stamp Exhibition FDC.

Technical Information.

        Date of Issue:
7 January 2009
        Number of stamps:
Three gummed stamps
50c, $1.00, $2.00
        Designed by:
Bananaworks, Auckland
Carter Security Printing, France.
Offset Lithography
        Number of colours:
Four process colours
        Stamp size & format:           
40mm x 30mm (vertical)
        Miniature sheet:
120mm x 90mm (horizontal)
        Paper type:
Red Phosphor 102gsm gummed stamp paper
        Stamps per sheet:
25 with a ‘Lunar’ label between the fourth and fifth stamp on each row
        Perforation gauge:
13 x 13.2

Technical Information.

        Date of Issue:
15 January 1997
Lindy Fisher, Auckland New Zealand
Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
        Stamp Size:
39.56mm x 30mm; Miniature Sheet Size: 112mm x 90mm
        Sheet Size:
50 stamps per sheet
        Perforation Gauge:               
        Paper Type:
Harrison and Sons, red phosphor coated, unwatermarked

Some of the images in this post were used with permission from the illustrated catalogue of StampsNZ
You can visit their web site and On-line Catalogue at,


  1. Oh Anne! What a lot of bull!
    I mean big bull. LOL

    1. Paul you are welcome to come for New Year but please leave Kirsten at home.