Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011 | 17
RU R A L F EATU R E
out in the paddock
Brahmans give Wellsford breeder plenty to beef about
Cattle breeder Vanessa Doggett is heading a one-woman mission to establish
the Brahman breed in Northland.
The determined Wellsford farmer has “During last summer’s drought, when
bred the first registered red Brahmans other cattle were standing in the
shade, my Brahmans were out in sun,
to be born in New Zealand.
After years of “passionate interest” in grazing, and still converting feed.”
the breed, which originated in India, Vanessa has spent years pouring over
Vanessa is convinced of the benefits breed information and genetic profiles
of the droopy-eared, loose-skinned to create a good line for breeding here.
beasts, particularly to drought-affected She now has two pure-bred two-yearold heifers and her first pure-bred
“Over the years, the breed has had a bull, from embryos imported from
Australia. These were from a registered
bit of a bad rap,” she says.
Australian dam and the American sire
“They’ve been classed as flighty and Mr Three X.
hard to handle. But that’s because
in Queensland – where they are the “From six red embryos, there were
mainstay of beef farming – they’re kept three confirmed pregnancies.”
in huge mobs and only see a human The embryos were imported by NZ
twice a year, during mustering, which Genetics and placed into recipient
often involves helicopters and dogs. cows, which Vanessa then purchased.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got two
No wonder they get a bit toey.”
In Vanessa’s eyes, Brahmans are the heifers, Ruby and Hazel, and my
“breed of the future for Northland” special bull.”
as being of tropical origin they can The bull calf is “special” because he’s
tolerate the hot dry weather that’s named Karoo Scotty’s Hokey Pokey,
after Vanessa’s youngest daughter
become common over recent years.
Cara’s best friend, Scott Collins. Scott
“I’m convinced of global warming
died of cancer, aged nine, before he
and these cattle are ideal for hotter
got to meet his namesake.
conditions – and they don’t mind the
cold either as shown by the breed’s “He was an amazing young boy who
continued page 19
popularity in America.
Vanessa Doggett and her pure bred Brahman bull, Karoo Scotty’s Hokey Pokey.
09 423 8871
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18 | Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011
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with Robin Ransom www.matakanawine.com
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Matakana wines diversity
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One of the interesting characteristics of the Matakana winegrowing community
is the large range of grape cultivars we grow. A recent survey has disclosed 22
different varieties. To put this into perspective, the NZ Wine Institute Annual
Report shows separate acreage figures for only16 varieties for the whole of New
Zealand (and 12 of the varieties grown in Matakana are not listed). This indicates
that around half of the cultivars planted in the region are rare and unusual.
Fifteen of the 22 varieties grown in Matakana are red grapes and the acreage split
between red and white is approximately 60/40. Looking at the historical origin
of our cultivars, 14 come from France (nine red, five white), five from Italy (all
red), and one each from Spain, South Africa and California.
The largest Matakana region plantings are for pinot gris, syrah, merlot, cabernet
franc and chardonnay, in that order. Only two of these, chardonnay and merlot,
are amongst New Zealand’s five most planted cultivars, while pinot gris, syrah
and cabernet franc are sixth, ninth and eleventh nationwide. What does this
wide and unusual varietal mix say about the Matakana region? One thing it
says is that Matakana winegrowers may have judged our terroir, particularly our
climate, to be not especially well suited to three of the top five New Zealand
varietals – sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and riesling. It may also say that we are all
very much individuals and pioneers, happy to try different things in search of the
perfect wine. For example, there is a cluster of Italian red varietals from Tuscany and
Piedmont, which are rare throughout New Zealand. One of them, sangiovese, is the
sixth most planted cultivar in the Matakana region. Recently two local vineyards
have been amongst the first in the country to plant albarino, a Spanish white grape
that is currently taking Europe by storm.
Other unusual varietals are two very rare Bordeaux reds – petit verdot and
carmenere; a South African creation, pinotage (which used to be common but is
less so now); an obscure but exciting red from South-west France, tannat; a rare
white from the Rhone Valley in France, roussanne; and an equally rare white
Californian creation, flora.
Having such a diverse range of wine styles grown locally gives residents of the
region a marvellous selection from which to choose. And hopefully it instills a
sense of pride in the local winegrowing industry for being bold enough to think
outside the square and dedicated enough to produce many excellent wines.
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Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011 | 19
out in the paddock
loved the breed. His memory will live
on in Hokey’s line.”
Vanessa’s own love of the breed goes
back more than 15 years.
As an 18-year-old she left home and
leased land for breeding Dexter cattle.
She sold these for a “good price” at
the start of the lifestyle block boom,
which fed demand for the diminutive
breed. Then she started looking for a
“I like something different, and
when people ask why I want to breed
Brahmans, I say it’s because I can.
“I first saw the breed at Matakohe and
loved them. I was lucky enough later
to be able to buy three purebreds from
the last lines of progeny originally
imported from Queensland in 1992.”
Her love for the breed started however
when she was given Peppa, a Santa
Gertrudis cross heifer. While loving
Peppa’s personality and her looks,
Vanessa was also impressed with her
ability to calve easily and quickly get
back in-calf. She became the matriarch
of her breeding herd. Then, with the
purchase of her first bull, Mighty,
eight years ago, Vanessa’s Karoo
Brahman stud was born.
Now she’s ready to move onto a
new chapter, with semen from two
Australian polled red Brahman sires,
Chudley Blockbuster and Fernhills
Kingston, sitting “in the bank” waiting
for Ruby and Hazel.
The breed is slow to mature and the
heifers aren’t cycling yet. Vanessa plans
to calve them mid-June to fit around
the show season. Traditionally purebreds calve in February, as the heat
suits them better, but this means that
on the show circuit Vanessa’s calves are
competing against other beef breeds
up to ten months older than hers, due
to New Zealand’s June 1w cut off date
for breed classes.
from page 17
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Because Vanessa is the sole breeder of
Brahmans there’s no separate class on
the breed schedule at A&P shows, so
her stock is up against Belgian Blue,
Maine Anjou and Saler breeds, all
faster maturing than the Brahman.
Despite this, Vanessa has had some
impressive results and feels the breed is
gaining traction among beef farmers.
“It takes time to get over those initial
love white faces, and Charolais and
Vanessa is convinced that there is
potential for the export of semen,
particularly to Asia, where New
Zealand has a “reputation for its clean,
green image.” But she’s not sure that
she wants to use Hokey for semen
collection, as this would entail him
spending three months at Carterton.
“I don’t think I’d manage without
having him around! I’m not sure
where I want to take it from here. It’s
a passion and I’ve spent a lot of money
to get to this stage. I’m going to let
herd numbers build and wait and see.”
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20 | Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011
out in the paddock
Rodney chosen for first NZ
dung beetle research trial
Phone 09 423 8326 • Steve 021 726 790
Email: [email protected]
VISIT US AT NORTHLANDS FIELDAYS
FARM & LIFESTYLE
TROUGHS & TANKS • EFFLUENT SYSTEMS
STOCK CONTROL • BRIDGES & UNDERPASSES
PIPES, CULVERTS & FITTINGS • IRRIGATION
Landcare Research scientists are heading to Australia to learn how to mass
rear dung beetles, ahead of their release in Rodney.
The Environmental Risk Management
Authority gave its approval this month
for the importation and release of 11
dung beetle species.
Researchers Shaun Forgie and
Hugh Gourlay say that while dung
farming means large amounts of
dung are dropped which can lead
to environmental problems such as
leaching of nutrients into waterways
and reduced pasture production
because of increased forage fouling.
“If we successfully introduce and
establish exotic dung beetles, we
expect that in the long term there
will be millions chewing and burying
dung from pastoral animals such
as cows and sheep and that means a
monumental management change for
our farmers,” Mr Gourlay says.
“I suggest it would in fact be one
of the biggest changes to our farm Eleven species of dung beetle will be
management since we first imported trialed ahead of the NZ release.
cows into the country. This is a bold faeces which they roll away and bury
statement but the impacts of an army deep beneath the soil surface before
of efficient dung burying beetles could adding an egg.
As the eggs hatch the grubs feed on
Dung beetles search out the faeces of the dung so they break it down and
animals which they use for food and eventually turn it into a sawdust-like
reproduction. Most adult dung beetles material that adds to the fertility of
make tunnels in the soil beneath the the soil structure while all the time
faeces which they then bury to lay eggs getting rid of dung sitting on top of
in. Other species make balls from the the ground.
Puhoi Church fundraiser
WARKWORTH 59 Morrison Drive
P 09 425 9837 F 09 425 0581
PickaPod Olive Harvesting Umbrella
A variety concert will be held at the Puhoi on March 5 to help raise further
funds for the restoration of the Puhoi Church. The concert will start at 7.30pm
with wine and cheese from 6.45pm. Performers include the Robert Loretz
Choir, Stephen Morton-Jones (saxophone), Scott Thomas (Shakespeare) and
The Cadwgan Sisters (classical duets). Tickets are $18 and are available from
Jenny Schollum and Bernadette Straka 426 7374, 422 0716 or 027 211 0316.
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Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011 | 21
out in the paddock
Men ignore sun-safe message
Many New Zealand men are not taking enough care in the sun during the
A three-yearly survey of New
Zealanders’ sun protection awareness
and behaviour shows that many men
are unaware, or choose to ignore the
risks of excessive UVR during summer.
In a nationally representative sample
of 1250 people, regarding sun safety
knowledge, attitudes and behaviour,
just under half (46 percent) of men
reported being severely sunburnt in
the past – enough to cause blisters or
pain for two or more days.
Most men (83%) who responded to the who had been outside, 54 percent had
survey had been outdoors the previous stayed out of the sun or in the shade
weekend when UVR levels are high at some point, while in the 18-24 year
to extreme by WHO standards, and old age group, only one percent had
nearly a quarter (23%) of those who tried to get a suntan as opposed to
had been outside reported that they nine percent of females who had done
had got sunburnt.
so. According to Dr Judith Galtry,
The areas of the body most commonly Skin Cancer Advisor, it is critical to
sunburnt were the face, lower arms avoid sunburn as it increases the risk
and neck – parts of the body that tend of melanoma in later life.
to be less covered. Of those men who “This country has the world’s highest
had been outdoors, 55 percent reported melanoma rate and male rates of this
wearing a hat, 52 percent noted they cancer are consistently higher than
wore clothing which covered their torso, women’s,” she says.
while only 41 percent wore sunscreen.
In 2007 (the year for which the latest
Many men tend to wear caps rather statistics are available), there were 178
than more protective hats that also deaths and 1123 registered cases of
cover the face, neck and ears, which melanoma among men. The death rate
are vulnerable parts of the body.
from melanoma was 90 percent higher
The good news is that of those men among men than women in 2007.
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22 | Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011
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116 Rodney Street,
(next to the library,
Phone 423 8008
Over New Year’s I happened to spot a hedgehog stuck down a hole left from a
recently removed fence post. Naturally, we rescued the hedgehog and let him
carry on his merry little way. I did this despite knowing that in New Zealand,
unlike in the UK, hedgehogs are actually a pest.
Introduced in 1885, there
are on average two to
four of these secretive and
seemingly benign hedgehogs
per hectare in New Zealand.
With their pointed noses,
shuffling gait and intriguing
spines they are (to me at
least) undeniably cute.
Which is the crux of problem
of hedgehogs in New
Zealand. If they appeared to
us as a scurrying, aggressive,
encroaching type of mammal (like rats, mice, ferrets, and stoats), it would be far
easier to declare all-out war on them, knowing that they play a significant part in
the predation of rare skinks and eggs from ground resting native birds.
To flick a switch and have all hedgehogs (and why not rats, mice, rabbits,
stoats, ferrets and possums) disappear from New Zealand would be great and
certainly easier to swallow than having to actively hunt them out and kill them.
However, dealing with the individual and talking about the masses are two very
‘Out of sight out of mind’ equally applies to the death of a native bird or skink
at the hands of a hedgehog. We might not be pulling the trigger in this case
but we have certainly orchestrated the situation. Any creature’s protection or
destruction shouldn’t be founded on an empathy built around how “cute” it
appears to us. Think fur seals and rats. Or even hedgehogs and skinks. I hold
that all animals deserve to be treated humanely – even if that only means they
are killed humanely, regardless of their perceived worth to us either emotionally
So in the situation of hedgehogs how do we decide to target them for destruction
to protect skinks and birds? If humans upset the balance by introducing
something into an environment at the detriment of existing species then
how much ‘detriment’ is acceptable? Should we go about repairing things? Is
eradication of the ‘pest’ feasible or desirable? What will be the financial and
ecological cost? What will be the cost of in-action?
If there was a nationwide policy not to give care to sick, injured (or stranded)
hedgehogs will this make any appreciable difference if the main war isn’t
being fought on other fronts (i.e. a nationally declared eradication/control
programme)? I personally give preference to native wildlife. Though at the risk
of sounding hypocritical, I don’t regret saving the stranded hedgehog, as its
death alone would achieve no appreciable difference. I wish they could just
share the hedge!
Coast to Coast Vets
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Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011 | 23
out in the paddock
Tomarata cottage offers taste of country diversification
In a bid to boost farm income, Waitapu Farms, of Tomarata, has diversified
The 1500-acre property milks 850 Mr Partington rented out the cottage
cows in two herds. The business after becoming frustrated at how his
employs six fulltime workers and is farm workers treated accommodation
one of the larger dairying operations he provided for them.
within an hour of Queen St.
“We’d built a number of new homes for
Owner Greg Partington has set up a employees, but one of the distressing
farmstay Radcliffe Cottage so guests things about dairy farming is the poor
can enjoy staying in the country, while quality of workers attracted to it, and
also experiencing dairying first-hand. though we hoped that by providing
It was also a deliberate strategy for them with good accommodation they
generating more income for the farm. would appreciate it, this wasn’t the
Appalled by the low milk payment of case. We’d done up Radcliffe to a high
$4.50 per kg/ms two seasons ago, Mr standard and decided a better option
Partington looked for ways to boost was to let it out to visitors.
“Because I work in the city I know the
“I wanted something that didn’t take value of being able to come here to
our main focus away from milking relax. I couldn’t have survived without
cows,” he says.
having this. I’m involved on the farm
“A lot of dairy farmers made the as much as I can be and enjoy milking
mistake of getting into beef and cows.
moving away from their core business. “This is a well-run business, run to
“With dairy farming enjoying a the optimum for the acreage. I’ve
high profile and our proximity to been buying farms between 1997 and
Auckland, we are well-placed to 2008 to build it to this size. We’re
showcase dairying to those living in fully self-contained; we don’t graze off
the property and we grow our own
However, after a year of operation, the supplements. However, our revenue to
farmstay has attracted more overseas profit ratio is nowhere like it should
guests than Aucklanders. A recent be. But I’m delighted with this season’s
advertising campaign was aimed at payout (around $7.10 per kg/ms)
increasing domestic visitors.
which will make us more profitable.”
Greg Partington, of Waitapu Farms, Tomarata.
The main goal is to see the cottage
deliver income to benefit the farm’s
profitability and productivity, with
revenue used to increase the acreage
for cropping, or to pay for fertiliser.
Mr Partington grew up in Wellsford
and is a former Rodney College
student. He maintains close ties to
the school through the Ogilvy Intern
Scholarship – awarded for the first time
in 2009 which fully funds a student’s
university degree and guarantees
them a job at his advertising agency
on completion – and two $5000
Partington family scholarships.
“I find the partnership I have with the
school hugely rewarding. I’m proud of
what I have done there.”
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24 | Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011
NORTHLAND FIELD DAYS
out in the paddock
• Digger Hire
Contact Jeremy Weatherall
Phone 027 2525 353 • [email protected]
There will be plenty to see and do at next month’s Field Days.
Farmers gear up for future
6m x 6m x 2.4m Garage
with Tilt Door & PA Door
“Farming for the next Generation” is the theme for the 27th Northland
Field Days, held from March 3-5 in Dargaville.
“The theme reflects how farming mower races, quad skills, forestry
needs to continue to progress with the demonstrations,
technological changes we face in the Toyota Sheep Dog trials, Chelsea
future,” explains outgoing president Marriner and her Dog Stars, a tractor
pull contest, Clydesdales, vintage
“Last year’s event was a great success, machinery, Doug the Digger, live
despite Northland enduring drought entertainment and food hall.
and the country facing tough Organisers still have a few places
left for exhibitors and advise anyone
This year, organisers are again expecting wanting to take the opportunity to
around 25,000 visitors and more than showcase products or services to “get
500 exhibitors. The Field Days, held in quick”.
since 2008 at a new purpose-built Gates open at 9am and close at
facility on the corner of SH14 and 4.30pm daily. Tickets are available at
Awakino Point East Road, feature a the gate ($10) or can be pre-purchased
range of entertainment, demonstrations at Farmlands stores from Pukekohe to
and activities - making the event the Kaitaia.
largest on Northland’s calendar.
Confirmed attractions include lawn or phone 09 439 8998
Heritage Barn with Woodshed
10.5m x 11m x 2.7m
with Awning & Roller Doors
Tool Storage and Tractor Shed
12m x 6m x 3.6m with
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Phone/fax 09 423 8061
Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011 | 25
NORTHLAND FIELD DAYS
out in the paddock
Wasp larvae ice cream a lick
above the rest at Field Days
Northland regional council is hoping to lure visitors to its marquee at the
Field Days by offering up its latest wild food treat – ice cream topped with
frozen wasp larvae.
In recent years council has successfully
used a variety of food made from
pests as a fun way of attracting
visitors. Previous wild food treats have
included possum and goat meat pies,
possum pate, wild rabbit sausages
and breakfast sausages flavoured with
kawakawa and horopito.
Council events and partnerships
coordinator Katherine Mabbitt says
the ice creams’ toppings of frozen
German wasp larvae and pupae have
a woody taste, crunchy texture and
honey-like smell, according to those
brave enough to try them.
While eating the unusual treats may
not be for the faint-hearted, Ms
Mabbitt says getting hold of the young
wasps requires nerves of steel too.
Northland Regional Council chairman
“They come from giant underground Craig Brown gives the wasp ice cream
‘nestcakes’ from beech forests on the the taste test.
South Island’s West Coast,” she says.
“The men who dig them up wear up and turning them into tucker”.
protective clothing to safeguard them More than 1000 portions of the free
from the enraged adult wasps.”
ice cream will be served over the three
Once dug, the nestcake is trucked to days of the event from the Council’s
Christchurch and frozen to kill the usual location – site 251, RD1 Road.
young insects within. The creamy- The ice-cream is a light-hearted way to
coloured larvae and charcoal-coloured boost visitor numbers to the marquee to
pupae are then extracted from tiny view displays and speak with staff about
individual cells similar to those found the more serious side of Council’s work.
in a beehive.
The marquee’s theme will be “The
Ms Mabbitt says the adult German Future Farmer” with a focus on
wasps are voracious feeders which actions farmers can take on a variety
decimate native insects, so “we’re doing of issues including pests, soil erosion
the ecosystem a favour by digging them and conservation and water quality.
Calling all innovators
The most innovative competition in the agricultural industry is returning this
year is calling for nominations. Organisers are now searching for kiwi inventors
to enter their rural innovations in the competition held annually at the largest
agribusiness event in the Southern Hemisphere, the National Agricultural
Fieldays. Info: Adam Reinsfield 07 843 4499, email [email protected]
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26 | Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011
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Post Ramming Slashing Spraying
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Stopping the silt
What a welcome relief to have some rain last month. Unfortunately, it was a
day after we had our tank filled at home. I was desperate to water the vegetable
garden and only had 30cm left in the bottom of the tank. You can almost
guarantee the forecasted rain wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t fill the tank.
Not so fortunate for all as it was such a torrential downpour creating major slips
and flooding in most areas.
The resulting silt spilling in our rivers and out to coast leaving a dirty residue
can’t be good for our marine life. This shows the importance of planting out
steep areas prone to slipping and also creating wetlands and rain gardens to soak
up and act as a filtering system during extremely wet conditions.
Autumn is just around the corner and it is one of the best seasons to plant,
particularly re-vegetation areas as they are generally fairly inaccessible unable to
be watered by hand, so now is a good time to start planning.
Mulching would be an added advantage to all gardens after this rain, February
can often be a particularly dry month and the addition of mulch will help retain
that precious moisture. If you have already mulched earlier it may need a top up
as the wind may have redistributed it to the neighbours garden.
Roses need extra special attention this month with the high humidity. Keep up
a regular spray programme fortnightly. Keep dead-heading spent flowers and
fertilise with rose fertiliser or a side dressing of sheep pellets. Hibiscus are one
plant that flourishes in this weather, they relish the warm tropical conditions and
in return provide lush foliage with an abundance of vibrant flowers, soft pinks
through to hot orange and red hues.
Creeping optimism in farm sector
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Federated Farmers latest mid-season farm confidence survey has joined other
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have emerged a lot more optimistic than their La Niña hit counterparts in the
North Island. Dairy farmers remain the most optimistic of the Federation’s
industry groups, yet the gap with meat and fibre as well as grains farmers
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Mahurangimatters 16 February 2011 | 27
Outboard Service & Repairs
out in the paddock
Young farmers go into battle
Eight young farmers will battle it out in the National Bank Young Farmer of
the Year regional final at Helensville on February 26.
Damian Dixon (Bream Bay), Shane
Munford (Whangarei), Lewis Carter
KenworthyThomson (Whangarei), Katherine
Tucker (Wellsford), Matt Smith
(Kaipara) Michael Farley (Kaiwaka)
and Andrew Farr (Kaipara) will
compete for one of seven places in
the grand final held in Masterton on
Regional finals are being held
throughout the country between
February and May.
The community is welcome to
attend the regional final, at the A&P
showgrounds. Entry is free.
There will plenty to keep spectators
entertained during the day-long
competition in which contestants face
a variety of practical, theoretical and
technical farming challenges. In the
evening contestants are quizzed and
interviewed by a panel of experts at
the Helensville Memorial Hall.
Up for grabs for the winners of each
regional final is a $10,000 prize package Katherine Tucker, of Tapora, during the
including a Honda farmbike, Lincoln “head to head” contest in Wellsford in
University study scholarship, cash, 2009, will line-up for this year’s event.
AGMARDT scholarship, hunting For event details and more information
trip courtesy of Isuzu, Ravensdown go to www.youngfarmercontest.co.nz or
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at work ?
Even in the best of offices or work sites, disputes arise between employers and employees from time to time. Our employment law team can advise you in hiring, restructuring and other employment matters. Whether you are a boss, or a worker, we can help you ensure your rights are protected and your obligations are fulfilled. phone 422 2190 27 Percy Street, Warkworth www.wynyardwood.co.nz WATER
0800 638 254OR 09 422 3700
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