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FEILDING STUD RAM AND EWE SALE 11TH DECEMBER, 2018

Posted by Christina On December - 11 - 2018

SOUTHDOWN RESULTS.

 

Lot 26  Mt.Annan  474/17 $3300.00 Harding Farming

Lot 27 Mt.Annan 339/17 $4000.00 A.D.Gillespie and P.G.& F.C.Williams

Lot 28 Willowhaugh 244/17 $1800.00 D.F.& J.R.Gray and C.D.Prouting

Lot 29 Willowhaugh 54/17  Passed

Lot 30 Banbury 502/17 Passed

Lot 31 Banbury 601/17 Passed

Lot 32 Bellfield 65/17  $4000.00 A.& J.Tatham

Lot 33 Moor End 37/17  $2000.00 P.D.McCormick

Lot 34 Moor End 16/17 $2000.00  Harding Farming

Lot 35 Ashbourne 707/17 $1600.00 Glenhazard Holdings Ltd

Lot 36 Ashbourne 712/17 Passed

Lot 37 Te Mara 5/17 Passed

Lot 38 Te Mars 77/17 (Replacement) Passed

Lot 39 Wiri 5/17 Passed

Lot 40 Wiri 57/17 $2500.00 Murvale Farm & R.& J.Trousdale

Lot 41 Murvale A23/17 Passed

Lot 42 Murvale A19/17 Withdrawn

Lot 43 Glen Orrin 105/17 Withdrawn

Lot 44 Silverdale 12/17 Passed

Lot 45 Willowhaugh 140/17 $1500.00  C.Miller-Brown

Lot 46 Willowhaugh 1/17 (Replacement) $1100.00  A.H.Brown

Lot 47  Moor End 73/17   $900.00 Terry Bros.

Lot 48 Ashbourne 701/17 (Ewe) $400.00 Aniwaniwa Ltd, Gore

Lot 49 Ashbourne 713/17 (Ewe) $400.00 Aniwaniwa Ltd, Gore

All about taking Southdown ‘to next level’

Posted by Christina On December - 4 - 2018

By Sally Rae, Rural Life, ODT Dec 3 2018

Don Murray, of Lawrence, views some of his Southdown sheep.

Don Murray, of Lawrence, views some of his Southdown sheep.

 Southdown sheep might be a breed steeped in history — it is the oldest of the terminal sire breeds in the UK — but a group of breeders in New Zealand is firmly focused on positioning it for the future, as  Sally Rae reports.

Lawrence farmer Don Murray quips he is a novice when it comes to breeding Southdown sheep.

There were stalwart breeders who had been there “forever” and from whom he had learned a lot since establishing his stud in 2006.

Mr Murray said he had always liked breeding sheep and was interested in recording. His father-in-law, who had bred Southdowns, further encouraged his interest to venture into stud breeding.

He had always been impressed by the breed, particularly its early maturity and ability to get lambs on the truck early.

His stud ewe numbers had built up to about 240 and were run in conjunction with a total operation of just under 5000 stock units on 550ha, following the recent acquisition of more land.

It was a hill country property and so it was a different environment from some areas where stud sheep were farmed, and had larger paddocks and gullies, yet the breed thrived.

He sold 60-odd rams a year and with many being used for hogget mating, he thought he had better go back to that himself.

Now two years into hogget lambing, it was “just so easy”, resulting in good lambs at weaning and a very saleable product.

Last year, 40% of his works lambs went on the truck at weaning and a lot of those would have been Southdown-cross, he said.

 

Southdown-cross progeny test lambs being graded by Miles Medlicott at weaning, watched by John Macaulay.

Southdown-cross progeny test lambs being graded by Miles Medlicott at weaning, watched by John Macaulay.

That was where the real advantage of the breed was — “the ability to be gone” — and to yield at a variety of weights.

Now breeders were trying to the breed “to the next level” and the establishment of a Southdown progeny test was about providing validation, he said.

The progeny test, based at Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht’s property at Stoneburn, near Dunback, was now in its second year and involved 20 sires from 14 breeders from Northland to Southland.

The Engelbrechts did not traditionally use Southdowns but were interested in supplying breeding ewes for the programme.

The couple were very successful commercial farmers, winning the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards and the New Zealand ewe hogget competition.

Mr Engelbrecht was responsible for getting the ewes in the trial mated and the lambs on the ground.

Lamb survival of the Southdown-cross progeny was excellent with less than 4% losses from lambing to tailing. Lambs would then go to Southdown breeder Chris Medlicott’s specialist fattening operation near Waimate to be finished.

One of the drivers of the programme, which is being supported by Beef + Lamb NZ Genetics, is Oamaru Southdown breeder and veterinarian Dave Robertson.

It could be difficult for smaller breeds to get scale to get good performance recording numbers, Mr Robertson said. The solution was to have a progeny test where the environment was standardised.

Objectives included getting better accuracy and reliability with performance recording, better genetic connectedness between breeders, comparing commercial meat quality traits within the breed, exploring some of the genetic technologies that were available for modern sheep breeding and looking at things like intramuscular fat and eating quality, and demonstrating the commercial relevance of the breed to industry.

There had always been the perception that Southdown and Southdown-cross had good eating quality but one of the aims was to get numbers around that.

Stoneburn farmer Simon Engelbrecht (left) and South Canterbury Southdown breeder Chris Medlicott discuss the logistics of the Southdown progeny trial.

Stoneburn farmer Simon Engelbrecht (left) and South Canterbury Southdown breeder Chris Medlicott discuss the logistics of the Southdown progeny trial.

“We want Southdown sires that produce lambs that grow fast, yield well and taste good — with the science to prove it,” he said.

Traits other than production were also important to breeders, with the likes of structural soundness and feet still important to the breed.

To be able to have a “snapshot into the future” of what a ram lamb could produce was very powerful. It removed some of the “guesswork and hoping something clicks” with a breeding programme.

The next step was how to harness that information and it had the potential to change how genetics were chosen.

Southdown New Zealand president Todd Anderson, of Winton, said the breed had continued to evolve over time to meet the requirements of the industry.

The main focus was to maintain “killable growth’ — meaning that lambs were killable at any stage, from 14kg or 15kg if need be through to 25kg “or whatever”, Mr Anderson said.

Breeders had a strong belief that it was not just about mass production, it was about quality of product.

The only way for New Zealand to economically progress was to sell a premium product to people that had the means to pay for it.

Part of that was that the consumer would want a story. The Southdown  was one of the oldest sheep breeds in the world. And as far as meat quality was concerned, it was about grain, colour and marbling.

Mr Anderson said the breed was  the wagyu of the sheep world in some ways and produced “beautiful quality meat”.

There had to be a conscious effort not to lose those attributes and so the instigation of the progeny trial was very exciting.

Carcass attributes, finishing ability, feed efficiency and killable growth were factors that were important to  Southdown New Zealand  as breeders, as well as to its clients in the sheep industry,  if it wanted to be in that global niche market.

New Zealand needed to realise that if it continued to sell based on commodity needs, then it would fast-track itself to the “bottom of the rung”.

Southdown breeders had always been proactive in terms of embracing science, so that was not something new, while stockmanship was also an important aspect.

The future — by continuing to maintain killable growth and a quality product for the consumer — was looking bright, but breeders also acknowledged they could not “stand still and rest on our laurels”, he said.

Veteran Southdown breeder John Macaulay, of South Canterbury, applauded the progeny test initiative.

He watched last season’s lambs go through the process at Alliance Group’s Smithfield plant on January 31,  almost 450 lambs weighing in at an average of 19.4kg.

He was impressed with things in the cooling room, where the lambs were a “sight to behold”. Looking across at comparable lambs of other breeds, they were “all over the place with no uniformity”, he said.

Ultimately, it was about growth rate, muscling and protein  being produced as quickly as possible and the Southdown was one of the breeds that could do that.

There were about 70-odd registered breeders in New Zealand and most were “totally dedicated”, which was one of the reasons the breed was performing, he said.

45 Southdown rams for sale. More information & catalogues online at  www.theshow.co.nz

 

Canterbury A&P Show Results 2018

Posted by Christina On November - 18 - 2018

Southdown section at Canterbury A&P Show

Southdown Section

3740 Ram, over 18 months, shorn.

1st Place I M & C A Jordan
2nd Place I M & C A Jordan
3rd Place  Stuart Brannigan

4th Place  A C & L K Christey

3742 Alliance NZ Ltd Ram, under 18 months, shorn – winner receives the CENTRAL

1st Place I M & C A Jordan
2nd Place A D Gillespie
3rd Place Chris J Medlicott

4th Place  P G & F C Williams

5th Place  Stuart Brannigan

3744 Alliance NZ Ltd & Boehringer Ingelheim Quality Meat Yield Class, two Rams,

1st Place P G, F C Williams
2nd Place Chris J Medlicott
3rd Place Chris J Medlicott

3748 Champion Southdown Ram

Awarded to: I M & C A Jordan

3749 JOHN DEANS SOUTHDOWN SHEEP TERRINE.

Awarded to: I M & C A Jordan

3750 Reserve Champion Southdown Ram

Awarded to: I M & C A Jordan

3756 Ewe, over 30 months, shorn, and her suckling lamb(s).

1st Place I M & C A Jordan
2nd Place I M & C A Jordan
3rd Place I M & C A Jordan

3758 Ewe, 18 to 30 months, shorn and her suckling lamb(s).

1st Place P G, F C Williams

2nd Place I M & C A Jordan

3rd Place I M & C A Jordan

3760 Essential Nutrition Ewe, under 18 months, shorn.

1st Place P G, F C Williams
2nd Place  I M & C A Jordan
3rd Place  A C & L K Christey

4th Place  Sam Hughes

3761 Allflex NZ Ltd Pair of Ewes, under 18 months, shorn.

1st Place Chris Medlicott
2nd Place  A C & L K Christey
3rd Place F G & F C Williams

3764 Champion Southdown Ewe. Winner receives the Perpetual Trophy – JARMAN CUP.

Awarded to: P C,  F C Williams

3765 Reserve Champion Southdown Ewe

Awarded to: I M & C A Jordan

3766 Supreme Champion Southdown

Awarded to: I M & C A Jordan

3770 Most Points Southdown Section – winner receives the JAMES DEANS CHALLENGE

Awarded to: I M & C A Jordan

3771 Allflex Best Carcase Southdown. Allflex kindly donate a $50 voucher.

Awarded to: I M & C A Jordan


Sheep Interbreeds Champion / Group Awards

To view results of the Inter-breed competitions click here

Buyers gather for new season lambs

Posted by Christina On November - 7 - 2018
Neil Common of PGG Wrightson sells the top cut of new season lambs for $145 a head at Stortford Lodge last week.

Neil Common of PGG Wrightson sells the top cut of new season lambs for $145 a head at Stortford Lodge last week.

THE first decent entry of new season lambs at any sale yard nationwide was presented at Stortford  Lodge last Wednesday. An annual draft consignment of 1860 Southdown cross lambs were a real talking point and successful buyers came from Taupo, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay.

TAKE THE LOT: New season lambs at Stortford Lodge last week.

TAKE THE LOT: New season lambs at Stortford Lodge last week.

New season lambs anticipation builds

By Suz Bremner, AgriHQ Analyst

It was with much anticipation that the first big entry of new season lambs went under the hammer at Stortford Lodge last Wednesday.

They came in the form of 1860 annual draft Southdown-cross from Waikareao Station, Te Aute, and owner Reece Whitelock was on the rails to see them sold.

Though the lambs hailed from Te Aute, Whitelock also owns Maunganui Station at Te Pohue and between the two properties runs 7000 Romney-Perendale ewes. The older ewes (five years plus) are farmed at Te Aute and put to high-quality Southdown rams to lamb towards the end of July and some of those progeny were presented last week.

The lambs are weaned and offloaded into Stortford Lodge anywhere from mid-October to early November to make room at the Te Aute property for weaned lambs from Te Pohue. It is a system that has proved its worth in the four years it has been used, with the lambs the first to hit

the market in decent volume so have attracted a good following of buyers. In past years they have been sold in two runs but this year the decision was made to put them all into one sale and it paid dividends.

Whitelock also decided to delve deeper into the flock with this year’s consignment up just over 600 head on 2017. All lines were mixed sex, consisting of rams and ewes, and were the perfect example of what a spring lamb should be, with the Southdown qualities shining through. Though they were drafted into six lines according to lamb size the quality was consistent throughout all the pens and it was merely the age that affected the size.

According to Whitelock, last year’s draft averaged $113 but as the last hammer fell on Wednesday the average sat at $126. Bidding was equally competitive across all six lines and Manawatu, Taupo and Hawke’s Bay were all successful. The top three lines made $138-$145 with medium types returning $119-$129 and the last cut $107.50.

Articles courtesy of Farmers Weekly 22-10-2018

2018 Southdown NZ Manawatu/Wairarapa Tour

Posted by Christina On April - 29 - 2018

MANAWATU/WAIRARAPA TOUR ITINERARY

MONDAY 30TH APRIL
Arrive In Palmerston North
Council Meeting 11.00 am – Copthorne Hotel
6 pm – AGM at the Steeple Room at Copthorne Hotel
7.30pm – Dinner at Copthorne Hotel
Accommodation – Copthorne Hotel, Fitzherbert Avenue, Palmerston North
TUESDAY 1ST MAY
Depart Copthorne 7.45am, Approximately.
Visit Corey Prouting – Ashby Stud, Shannon

Lunch & Stud visit at Diane & Janet Gray – Silverdale Stud, Rongotea
Talk with Mike Will – Commercial Breeder using Southdown Sires
Visit Angus Beef Unit – Milson Line, Palmerston North
Explore NZ Rugby Museum (optional) or enjoy relaxation at Copthorne Hotel or stroll around Palmerston North Square – Free time

Accommodation – Copthorne Hotel, Fitzherbert Avenue, Palmerston North
Meet at bar at Copthorne 7.00pm
Dinner – Evening Meal, Set Menu – 2 course at Aberdeen on Broadway – 7.30pm SHARP !!

WEDNESDAY 2ND MAY
Depart Copthorne 7.30am
Visit Roddy & Jan McKenzie – Glen Orrin Stud, Masterton

Lunch at GLADSTONE INN

Visit Jill Baird`s – Wiri Stud, Gladstone

Travel to GLENBURN STATION – Arriving approx. 3.30pm – 3.45pm
Enjoy Surroundings & Explore amazing Views
Meal & Accommodation at Glenburn Station

THURSDAY 3RD MAY

Depart Glenburn Station at 7.30am

Morning Tea at Mount Bruce

Arriving at Palmerston North Airport approximately 1pm

Playing cricket important in sheep breeder’s life

Posted by Christina On March - 5 - 2018
Doug McCall, a brother of the owner, and judge Eualie Thwaites, with the Southdown ram which won the Supreme Sheep Award at the Southland A&P Association's 150th Show in Invercargill on Saturday.

Doug McCall, a brother of the owner, and judge Eualie Thwaites, with the Southdown ram which won the Supreme Sheep Award at the Southland A&P Association’s 150th Show in Invercargill on Saturday.

A cricket game at Waikoikoi prevented Ross McCall from being on hand to receive the trophy for the Supreme Sheep Award at the Southland A&P Show in Invercargill on Saturday.

McCall, who along with his wife Tracey are sheep breeders at Waikoikoi, was playing for his local cricket club. However, the luck he had at the show didn’t stretch to Waikoikoi and the home team lost to Central Western.  

He and his brother Doug, of Benio, brought the family’s entries to the show on Saturday morning and then Ross returned home.

The Southdown ram, owned byMcCall, and Tracey and David Somerville, of Pine Bush, won four awards on Saturday – Supreme, Age Group, Champion Southdown and Meat Cup. 

“He was a point off winning the supreme award at the Wyndham show [in December],” said McCall, a fifth generation farmer.

Winning the top award on Saturday provided hi m with his fourth supreme title at shows.

“It’s a big honour winning at the 150th show.”  

His brother Doug said the ram had strong qualities. 

“He’s got good hindquarters, good loin, good bone and well balanced.” 

Saturday was the first Southland A&P Association Show McCall had entered sheep in since the annual event was moved from the Invercargill Showgrounds 10 years ago. The main reason for his absence was that it clashed with him playing cricket for the Waikoikoi club, of which he became a life member in January.

“I’ve been playing cricket for 33 years.”

Calder has many memories of Southland A&P Shows

Posted by Christina On March - 1 - 2018

Past presidents Noel Hamilton and Graham Calder are in a team setting up for the Southland A&P Association’s 150th Show at Donovan Park

A sheep stud breeder says one of the best things about A & P Shows is the camaraderie.

And, Graham Calder likes a bit of a challenge.

Like the time it took him 40 years to win a superior sheep title cup.

Calder who owns Southdown and South Suffolk Stud at Kennington has been entering stock at the Southland A & P Association show for at least 45 years.

“It’s a good opportunity to compare your sheep with other breeds and to see how your breed is going,” Calder said.

“There’s good camaraderie with the other breeders [at the shows].”

Calder had a memorable 2017 Southland show when winning the Meat and Wool Cup for the superior sheep title.

“It took me 40 odd years to win it.” 

Calder, who is also a show past president, will work alongside another past president Noel Hamilton as sheep marshalls at the association’s 150th show in Invercargill on Saturday.

One of the highlights for Hamilton during his time as president was the staging of a Royal Show in 1994. The association had to pay $5000 to the New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society for hosting rights.

Specially-made ribbons to mark a Royal Show were needed and accommodation for overseas judges required.

“There was a lot of extra cost to hold it … sponsorship [money] covered a lot of it,” Calder said.

Calder can remember leading his neighbour’s milk shorthorn heifer in the grand parade at the 100th Southland show at the Invercargill Showgrounds.

Saturday will be the sixth year the show has been held at Donovan Park after it was at the Invercargill racecourse for three years. Before that, the showgrounds was the longstanding venue.

Hamilton said Donovan Park was a “really nice setting” for the show.

The oldest piece of machinery owned by the association is a 1960s Massey Ferguson 135 tractor which is used for mowing.

The pets’ area at the show was always popular with children, Hamilton said.

 

Offenders doing community service are helping volunteers to set up for Saturday’s show.

“There’s a lot of manual labour needed and without their help, we’d struggle [to get everything done in time],” Hamilton said.

Community service workers had worked for the association for many decades, he added.

Southdown NZ Newsletter 121

Posted by Christina On January - 23 - 2018

NEWSLETTER NO. 121.

As 2017 draws to a close and in general the year has been one of surprises, be it the Jacinda media hype, Winston getting all his wishes (NZ First Christmas seem to have come early) and his party linking with Labour yet National getting the most seats but did not win the election. Think many people don’t understand MMP. Donald Trump performing in ways we have never seen a US President do, some of the past ones must cringe. Rugby held our attention again and the Lion Tour was great and a wonderful following of fans. Spoke to a few and they thought NZ was great and the people so very kind and helpful, a nice complement I thought. Weather also a topic that keeps coming up, so very very wet all year and then November came and the drought has set in and the extremely high temperatures, which about here we are not use to, day upon day.
Canterbury Stud Sale.
37 Rams sold at the fall of the hammer and 2 passed in. The Ewes 6 in and all sold. As many will have seen the reports in the paper David Robertson with his Ram Cordyline 15/16 sold for $16000.00 to Dave Gillespie. Chris Medlicott received $8500 for his Ram Clifton Downs 462/16 and there were many good prices paid. The Ewes averaged $530 and we look forward to a new member coming out of that.
To all under bidders thanks because as we all know without them the sale does not go ahead.
Feilding Stud Ram Fair.
16 Rams were sold and 4 were passed at the fall of the hammer. The average was $2206 and $6000.00 was received twice by Willowhaugh with our member Gavin Deadman being the purchaser of Willowhaugh 16/16.
Congratulations to all Vendors and please remember at any sale should you sell a Stud Ram it is your duty to complete the transfer and forward it to the Office. We will then forward a copy of the paper work to the Purchaser. For some where more than one Stud is the purchaser please show the names of the others on your form.
Payment of Accounts.
Thank you to so many of you that pay your account in full on the month you receive it. As the Society balance date is 31st December, we would appreciate it if all of the 2017 accounts were paid by then.
2018 AGM and Tour.
Council has discussed the 2018 AGM and tour and it is being hosted by members in the Manawatu and Wairarapa. The dates are Council meeting on Monday 30th April and the AGM will be held that evening and based in Palmerston North. Day 1 of the tour will be within the Manawatu and you will not have to pack your case as we stay at the hotel that night as well. The second day we head to the Wairarapa and spend the night at Glenburn Station, which is on the Wairarapa coast, (a dry area more ways than one boys). The following morning we will wend our way back to Palmerston North and will arrive at the airport in time for any to catch flights from 2.00 pm on.
Details of costs and your registrations will come out in 2018 once the Committee has all that information completed. The early time of the outline is so people are able to book early flights at hopefully better prices.
Website.
I am sure that there must be some good photos which should be on the Website so please if you have such, send them to Christina at wjordan@xtra.co.nz . She is the Website lady and does such a good job so please help her. If an article about Southdown’s appears in your local paper please advise her also of that.
2018 Ram Trial.
The 2017 trial is in full swing at present and results and lots of information will come out after the lambs are killed, which is to be 15th February. More Ram Lambs will be required again for the 2018 trial and that request will be sent to you all towards the end of February. A very big thanks must go to Dave Robertson, Todd Anderson, Chris Medlicott plus all the helpers and Committee. We must not forget the Englebrecht‘s who have been involved with the trial. They are the people who put their Commercial Ewes up to be used and all have said how great they have been with people coming and going for tagging, docking (sorry tailing in the South) and weaning. It will have interrupted some of their Commercial farming ways but they have never faulted and have co-operated most willingly at all requests. The Committee’s comments have been “great people and very good farmers”.
Again thanks to all who have been involved which of course includes all the Breeders who put Ram Hoggets up for the 2017 trial.

Ram Health and Husbandry.
We attach a paper that Dave Robertson published on the above topic and Council felt it was very worthwhile to be circulated to all Members and for Members to give it to their Ram Clients. Nothing worse than hearing “your Ram left few lambs” but purchasers must in lots of cases be at least partly at fault. Rams must be looked after through their working life, not just for their first mating.
From the Pen of the President.
As we fast approach Christmas for 2017 we need to acknowledge that it has been another good year for the Southdown.
Most breeders report sound Ram sales and the Southdown was again the highlight of the recent Canterbury Ram sale.
2017 has also seen the exciting Ram trial come to fruition. The lambs are being weaned on 21st December, and being shifted to Chris and Shelley Medlicott’s to finish. They will be EMA scanned prior to being killed at Alliance where they will be via scanned and assessed for intramuscular fat. This trial is a great step for the breed and thanks again to the Breeders that have supported this initiative. Given our scale we need to remember that our strength is working together.
Like a lot of people we are very dry with people saying it could be the driest since 1990 in our area.
I would like to thank everyone for being a passionate Southdown breeder, this commitment is what makes our Society special.
Before signing off I would like to acknowledge the passing of one of our great Ambassadors, Bill Medlicott. Margaret and family gave him a great send off on Friday 8th December, at St.Johns Church, Timaru. It was great to catch up with some fellow breeders there and remember some special times. Bill was a legend of the breed and his wisdom will be sadly missed.
Merry Christmas and I hope you all have a safe and happy start to the New Year and here’s to a great 2018.
Todd.

Conclusion.
If you have an email address or even changed it please advise us so we can keep in contact. If you received this Newsletter through the post and now have an email address and that is Members without Flocks also, yes, we would like to have it.
Photos and Southdown stories direct to Christina please.
AGM and Tour for the early birds fly to Palmerston North on Monday 30th April, 2018 and you can fly out after 2.00 pm on Thursday 3rd May, 2018, from Palmerston North.
Sale of Ewes to a person wishing to become a Member of the Society the Ewes must be inspected on your property before they leave. Ring the Office prior to them being transported so we can arrange an Inspector, just give some advanced warning of your request.
Ram health and husbandry, please spread the word.
For some of you Christmas is an exciting time with perhaps new family members at your table. For others it will be a sad time because you have lost a loved one and it will be the first Christmas without them. Others have had health problems during the year and we hope that you are well on the road to recovery. Please be rest assured if any Southdown members can be of a help or a comfort to you just ask, as we are part of your family.
Joanne and I again thank you all for your friendships over the year and your co-operation and wish you and yours a very happy Christmas with family and friends and may 2018 be a safe and prosperous year.

Joanne.M.Pinfold,(Mrs) and Christine.H.Ramsay (Miss),
Secretaries.
20th December, 2017.
Live every moment
Laugh every day
Love beyond words

Ram Health & Husbandry

Posted by Christina On January - 23 - 2018

Ram Health and Husbandry: a summary for getting the best out of your genetics
Dave Robertson BVSc BSc
Oamaru Veterinary Centre

The health and longevity of commercial ram teams is an area where farmers can invest a small amount of time and attention to make a big impact.
Having healthy rams that last mean you can focus more on culling for production based traits rather than preventable ill thrift or diseases that are not a genetic basis.
In the Beef and Lamb Genetics ram health and husbandry study we identified some key reasons for ram losses, many of which are not due to the genetics but rather the management and husbandry of those ram teams.
Below is a summary of some those areas and some management practices that may improve the outcomes for ram teams.

1. Body condition (BCS)
In the study rams lost on average 13% of body weight over mating. This seemed to be a reasonable amount to lose. However many rams were losing between 20-30% of body weight over the mating period. These rams had slower recovery of that condition and higher death and culling rates. This body condition loss was not bred-specific, rather farm specific. That is, certain farms pushed rams harder regardless of whether they were terminal or maternal types. If ewes lost a small amount of BCS over mating then ram teams lost more than 13%.
2. Parasitism
Parasite burdens on rams were very high in mixed aged good condition rams pre-mating. Add to a worm burden the stress of mating and body condition loss, then it is fair to assume that worm burden will have a significant impact on ram health and recovery of BCS post mating.
Recommendation:
– Get rams in good condition pre-mating. BCS 3.5. Fitness of rams also can make a difference. One suggestion to exercise rams was to train the pup on rams for 1-2months prior to going out.
– Drench with an effective combination drench and boost with minerals (B12, Se, Iodine) pre-tup.
– Post mating Drench again on removal from ewes. Checking feet (see feet section below).
– Make feeding a priority over the winter to recover BCS which will help get immune function back on track.
e.g. 100kg will need at least 3kgDM daily to gain weight and this will ideally have some quality green feed or ever concentrates. Ideal live weight varies widely in rams ranging from 90 to 150kg. Therefore rams that have 130kg optimal weight will have almost 50% higher maintenance feed requirements than ram that is 90kg at optimum. This maybe part of the reason for big sheep “not lasting”.

3. Teeth
Excessive tooth wear or broken mouths were associated with ill thrift, deaths and a main reason for culling.
Recommendation
-Checking teeth of rams twice yearly, pre-mating and prior to working ram purchases for next year.
– tooth wear is influenced by age and the grazing pressure applied to stock. Running rams on longer pasture covers is likely to not only improve BCS but also reduce tooth wear.

4. Feet
One of the main areas of early culling of rams was for feet issues, mainly infectious foot problems such as footrot or foot abscess.
There was a wide range of opinion and attitudes toward hoof care in rams, however farmers in the survey and the ram study who made hoof prevention a priority with rams had less culling for feet related issues.

Recommendation
– Eradicate footrot from the ram team. This is possible as they are an isolated group for 10 months of the year. But not easiliy achieved in some cases. Inspect feet whenever the opportunity arises, ideally 3 x year. Pre-and post-mating most critical. 2 clear inspections at least 30 days apart are required to deem a group clear of footrot.
– Troughing in zinc sulfate during wet conditions will help reduce the scald. Rams leading up to mating seemed to have higher incidence of lameness, so 7-14 day troughing cycles leading up to mating will prevent simple infections becoming abscesses/footrot. Part of the fitness-pup training program!
– Outside of mating select drier paddocks or areas where rams can camp out of the moisture will reduce infection rates.
– Treating feet lesions early with systemic anti-biotics and topical spray will give best recovery rates. Some will require careful paring to relieve infection and allow healing. Hoof abscesses occur when simple lesions are neglected. Once into the joint an abscess will not respond to antibiotics.

5. Other
Get your rams vet checked annually. Testicular lesions are not uncommon and brucellosis can have a devastating effect on a flock.

Boost with 5 in 1 every year. This is a very simple way to prevent sudden death in rams

Fly protection, especially around the head pre-summer and late summer.

Social pressures. Injuries from fighting are not uncommon, but can be reduced by keeping a stable mob dynamic and not mixing rams. New 2 tooth rams are best kept separate until after mating if possible.