Sheep farming in New Zealand is being pushed back into the hill country, or onto land which frequently faces drought. The trend has been towards more extensive farms, less labour, and lower fertiliser input, yet improved productivity is needed from easy-care sheep. Climatic stresses require genetics capable of bouncing back quickly.
Nationally, the Wairere reputation is built around shifting ability and the ability to bounce back after a hard time.
SIZE AND SCALE
The Wairere Romney flock comprises:
- 7,000 SIL recorded ewes and twinning hoggets
- 7,500 multiplier ewes and ewe hoggets
- 2,500 ewes which provide rams for Wairere King
- 1,030 Challenger ewes (facial eczema resilient, tested at 0.55 sporidesmin for the last two years, 10x two-tooth sires dosed at 0.6).
- 800 Dominator (composite terminal) ewes
- 1,700 SIL recorded composite ewes
- Multiplier ⅜ Texel ⅜ Romney ⅛ Finn ⅛ East Fresian
- Tufguy ½ Texel, ½ Romney
We select for constitution by mob stocking on second class hill country at a high stocking rate, averaging 750kgLW/ha wintered. Wairere is a good testing ground, winter wet, summer dry, and in a class 1 wind zone. Nationally, the Wairere reputation is built around “shifting ability” and “bouncing back after a hard time”.
EYE MUSCLE AREA
Since 2001, up to 7,000 ram lambs each year have been measured for eye muscle area. This measurement is integrated into our SIL index. From 1994 to 2014 Wairere was involved with the Wairarapa Romney Improvement Group (WRIG) in an annual sire evaluation trial comparing progeny saleable meat yield.
HOGGETS MUST GET IN LAMB
All ewe hoggets have been mated since 1966, and are all lambed unshepherded. Selection for easycare lambing and against bearings has been practiced for more than forty-five years.
We run all sheep in large mobs, and let the fittest survive. Big numbers allow heavier culling.
We practise minimal drenching in young stock. For six years ram lambs were a part of an AgResearch trail for resilience and resistance to internal parasites. Ewes and two tooths have not been drenched since 2005, except a small proportion four times in that eleven years.
REDUCING YOUR WORKLOAD
Like you, we cull heavily on dags, and other basics like feet pasterns. We are always thinking about how to reduce your workload. We have also started to select a line of “bare breech” Romney ewes to mate to our barest Romney sires, to produce offspring with barer points and less dagging.
Data Capturing and Technology