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2018 Southdown NZ Manawatu/Wairarapa Tour

Posted by Christina On April - 29 - 2018


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
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 !!

Depart Copthorne 7.30am
Visit Roddy & Jan McKenzie – Glen Orrin Stud, Masterton


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


Depart Glenburn Station at 7.30am

Morning Tea at Mount Bruce

Arriving at Palmerston North Airport approximately 1pm

Top Ram sells for $16,000 at Elite Ram and Ewe Sale

The 2017 Canterbury A&P Association Elite Ram and Ewe Sale, held Friday 1 December, attracted a quality line up, with 223 Rams and 20 Ewes of all breeds entered into the sale. With 156 rams selling, the average sale price was $1721 and $353 for ewes with 19 selling.

The highest price was reached by a Cordyline (David Robertson, Omaru), selling for $16,000 (purchased by AD Gillespie, Midlands Stud, Oxford). The $16,000 ram (Cordyline 15/16) was born a triplet and recently won Champion Southdown at the Southern Canterbury A&P Show. Mr Robertson has retained semen rights for the ram.

37 Southdown Rams sold at the fall of the hammer and 2 were passed in. A number of other rams sold for top prices including: $8500 (Chris J Medlicott, Waimate) Clifton Downs 462/16 purchased by Taffy Ltd and $7000 (Willowhaugh Enterprises Ltd, Blenheim) Willowhaugh 82/16 purchased by Dave Robertson & John Macaulay. Overall there was a good number of transfers and a good commercial buying power.
The ewes from Musburg (Stuart Brannigan) sold well averaging $530.

Southdown NZ Newsletter 121

Posted by Christina On January - 23 - 2018


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.
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 . 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.

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),
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.
– 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.
-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.

– 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.

Southdown NZ Newsletter 120

Posted by Christina On July - 12 - 2017


The year rolls on yet again and for some lambing not too many weeks off. As for the weather we won’t go down that track, just hope Spring is early, dry and warm. Store lamb prices have been ever going up so perhaps this coming season the farmers that put lambs on the ground will get well paid all season. Not sure unless you have good contracts who really makes money from the gate to the plate, but I am sure the supermarkets don’t do too badly.
Been an interesting Rugby season so far and hope the ones of you who have been to any of the Lions games have enjoyed them and that includes the Tests.
Not sure how many of you have set the alarm each sailing day – I have – and what a great team and crew have been on Emirates Team New Zealand. We see Peter Burling and a quiet unassuming man that he is. They have all just got on with their jobs without all the hype of the other boats and proved the great boat designers New Zealand has and so far in advance of any one else.
Southdown Tour 2018.
Yes, it is a long way out and no dates have been discussed but it is going to be hosted within the Wairarapa and Manawatu areas. If any Members within the areas are willing to help with the itinerary suggestions and also help host it please contact Jill Baird or Janet Gray.
AGM 2017.
Thank you to all whom attended the AGM and that includes wives and partners. Council realised there would be only a small number attending due to not having an NZ Tour. The Tasmanian Tour sounded it was a success, thanks to the organisers and all whom went on it.
Council 2017/2018.
The Council continues on the same as last year with Todd as President, Donald, Vice-President, John, Treasurer, and Councillors, Stephen, Jill, Stuart, Janet, Christina, Chris, and Charles. Brent is still a co-opted Councillor and our Honorary Life Members are Puck Hughes, John Macaulay, Bill Medlicott and David Wyllie.
Thank you all for your input and time you willing give for the Society.
Christina is still the lady in charge of running it and continues to ask for items of news, photos, (have the Tasmanian ones became available?) The web site is looked at by many so it is our face to the world, therefore we need to keep it up to date. Your assistance is very much appreciated.
Stuart and Jill are still in charge of this area. Council decided last year to pay a reporter at various times of the year and have articles written and placed in the farming papers. This was because they felt the same Breeders were doing the advertising to get feature stories in a publication and they were promoting the whole breed. This way has not been all that successful but the Promotion Committee is now working with a different reporter in the hope to get articles in papers. Should any Members have any contacts with reporters you may contact Stuart or Jill to give some help.
New Members.
At the last Council meeting the following new member nominations were accepted:
S.E.Hughes, 35 Rattletrack Road, No.4 R.D., Christchurch. 7674.
Kevin McFadden, 66 Mile Road, No.2 R.D., Bombay, 2675.
Also Mrs.C.A.Cameron has taken over the flock of G.E.Johansen who is her Father. G.W.Hunt has started a flock so moves from Member without a Flock to a member with a flock.
To you all, welcome and we hope you become involved with any Southdown activities with in your area and also perhaps Shows and Sale as well as coming to the Southdown AGM tours.
There are also three more Flocks that are to join the Society with new Flocks but the final paper work is still to be completed.
Canterbury A. & P.Show 2017.
This year the Southdown trophies will be presented at the Show and this will be indicated in the schedule that will become available soon.

Ewe Inspections.
This was discussed at Council and in the current Flock Book page 5 by-law XXIV will be deleted as it is out of date. PLEASE all Members when you are selling Ewes to someone to start a new flock the Ewes must be first inspected. Please contact the Office and we will arrange for the inspection once we have contacted the President.
Looking After Rams.
Council briefly discussed this at their meeting because there is some concern when Members hear that their Rams did not perform for any real reason. They suggest that Members, when you sell Rams you don’t give a lecture to the Purchaser but perhaps discuss with them how to look after their Ram/s so that they do last for a number of mating seasons. Encourage feedback. Suggest that when they purchase them don’t put them in with other older Rams until after mating is over. When they come out of the Ewes they check them over, drench them and put them into a paddock with good feed. Don’t just take them out of the Ewes and sling them into the paddock that has the bits and pieces in and poor feed. These fellows have done their years work and need to be given care to be built up for the next year.
Allflex, Zee Tags, Woolovers.
Please find enclosed order forms for all three. You can order direct or contact the Office and we will put your orders in. Remember to get your orders in, in good time so your tags for the season are ready when the first lambs come.
The Treasurer thanks all of you who do order your sheep and even cattle tags through the Society, this as you are aware as per the balance sheet does generate revenue for the Society at no extra cost to you. Yes perhaps some companies do sell tags cheaper as a service but they add the “discount they offer” onto some other product to balance the books.
From The Pen of the President.
Firstly I would like to extend our condolences to Janet and Diane Gray and family with the passing of Rea. Our thoughts are with you at this sad time. We also extend our condolences to Robyn Bradley and her family with the passing of Jim this last week also.
At the time of writing we are in the midst of winter. For us the first part has been dry however since July has arrived we have become very wet quite quickly. I hope everyone is coping ok.
Also David Robertson has just given us an update on the Southdown Progeny Trial. The scanning and AI program has gone well with enough twin bearing ewes to meet our requirements. This is a very exciting project for the Southdown breed. Thanks again David for all the great work you are doing, it is very much appreciated.
Looking ahead to the coming season, hopefully we can all have a reasonable lambing as prices look to be positive. We just need something to kick start the wool market back into life.
Some of us will be heading towards lambing shortly which for those of us further south is a scary thought. However I will take this opportunity to remind everyone that you can order your tags through the society.
To everyone we wish you all the best for the rest of the winter and here’s hoping we have a good spring for lambing.
Thanks again for your passion for the breed
Todd Anderson
Please we need more photos/articles for Christina to put on the Web-Site.
Can you help Stuart and Jill regarding promotion, if so please contact either of them.
Welcome New Members, help is only a phone call or email away if need be.
Please remember that if you are selling Ewes to a person to start a Flock those ewes MUST be inspected on your property first.
When selling Rams, consider speaking to the purchaser about caring for the Ram/s that have been just purchased.
Enclosed are Zee, Allflex and Woolover order forms. Place your orders in good time, and when doing so we would appreciate it if you show your Flock Number in the Order No. area.
Happy lambing and may the weather be kind and the percentages good.

J.M.Pinfold (Mrs) and C.H.Ramsay (Miss),

2016 Feilding Stud Ram and Ewe Fair

Posted by Christina On December - 19 - 2016


Lot 51 Willowhaugh 7/15                                     $3800

Lot 52 Willowhaugh 122/15 (Rep)                        $3800     –  Gavin Deadman

Lot 53 Wiri 80/15                                                $ 800

Lot 54 Wiri 20/15                                               $1000

Lot 55 Banbury 521/15                                       $1100

Lot 56 Moor End 55/15                                       $1700

Lot 57 Moor End 43/15                                       $1000

Lot 58 Glen Orrin 168/15                                    $ 800

Lot 59 Glen Orrin 31/15                                      $1500    –  Stuart Brannigan

Lot 60 Murvale A39/15                                      Passed

Lot 61 Murvale A16/15                                         $ 900

Lot 62 Oakdale 1/15                                           Passed

Lot 63 Silverdale 19/15                                       Passed

Lot 64 Willowhaugh 235/15 (Rep)                         $4000             

Lot 65 Willowhaugh 106/15                                  $2200

Lot 66 Wiri 38/15                                                 $ 800

Overall results for the Southdowns were 16 offered with 3 passed and 13 sold for an average of $1,800. The other buyers were commercial.

Southdown breeder not sad to see young ram go for $9000

Posted by Christina On December - 8 - 2016
Waimate southdown stud breeder Chris Medlicott

Southdown breeder Chris Medlicott is pleased his young ram made $9000.

A $9000 ram topping a ram and ewe sale in Christchurch has made southdown breeder Chris Medlicott a happy farmer.

The southdown sire was well ahead of the 244 ram and 28 ewe field for the Canterbury A&P Association Elite Ram and Ewe Sale last week.

The top ram hogget from the mainly meat breed was bought by Winton southdown breeders Todd and Fleur Anderson, who have previously sourced Medlicott for their southdown bloodlines.

Chris Medlicott, from Waimate, has held the world record for selling a $16,000 southdown ram.

Chris Medlicott, from Waimate, has held the world record for selling a $16,000 southdown ram.

Medlicott’s Clifton Downs Southdown stud is in Waimate and he is no stranger to topping sale prices over the past 10 years at the ram auction. In 2005 he broke the world record for a $16,000 southdown.

“The $9000 was a pretty good result considering the climate and the sheep industry. I’m pretty positive about the sheep industry, but some people are concerned about the low commodity prices that aren’t that high, but of course [we have seen that come and go before].”

He said the ram hogget had performed well at the Canterbury A & P Show, winning the single ram hogget class and the all-breeds meat ram hogget section.

Medlicott said it had not been difficult letting the young ram go because that was his job as a southdown stud breeder.

“You just try to keep looking for another one. There is plenty of his bloodlines in the flock and you have to [balance the bloodlines]. Some times you can always buy a son back.”

Medlicott sells his elite rams at the Canterbury A&P Association sale and sold all seven of the ram hoggets he offered, including a sire bought for $4000 by Ross McCaw and another ram which will end up being delivered to Argentina. He sells about 80-90 ram hoggets a year with the others sold privately to buyers from Canterbury, Otago and some to Southland and parts of the North Island such as Hawke’s Bay.

He said the southdowns commanded high prices because of their good traits including their ability to get lambs away before the meat schedule drops.

“Southdown breeders are quite progressive and are prepared to keep investing in genetics.”

The average sale price was $1678 for 145 rams sold at the auction and $379 for 19 ewes. Total sales amounted to $250,500 after the final bid was taken.

The closest contender to the Medlicott ram was a texel from Culverden’s Sam Holland making $6500 and another southdown made $6500, belonging to Willowhaugh Enterprises from Blenheim. The southdowns had a good run with a Midlands ram sold by Dave Gillespie from Oxford making $5200.

Other top prices were a south suffolk making $5400 from  SJ Sinclair of Ashburton, a corriedale for $2200 from Wattlebank, GR & RW Wilson at West Melton, a hampshire for $3600 from La-Mac, BJ & PE Butterick at Tai Tapu and a romney for $5000 from Gatton Park, DA & SJ Wyllie at Ashburton.

The best border leicester made $2500 from Alyth, IR Caird at Timaru, a suffolk for $6000 from Collie Hills, Collie Hills Partnership at Kurow and another suffolk for $5000 from Taronga, SW Howard at Lawrence and a dorset down for $4000 from Belview, JP & WN Dodd at  Oamaru.

Canterbury A&P Association sheep committee member Graham Sidey said sought after rams had sold at impressive prices and the overall result was positive.

“We were expecting the prices to be down a little, but we had a great turnout and overall we’re really happy with the sale. There was good buying for purchasers, especially for the top-end commercial rams selling at the $800 to $1000 mark.”

The total tally was the lowest for the past five years, including a $306,000 peak in 2013 when the ram average was $1867.

Going, going, gone: Merrydowns Romney and Southdown ram fair

Posted by Christina On December - 6 - 2016
Merrydowns Ram Sale

John McKone sells a ram

PGG Wrightson senior auctioneer John McKone sells a ram at the Merrydowns Romney and Southdown ram fair at Waikoikoi last week.

Blair and Sally Robertson sold 194 rams as far afield as Warkworth for an average price of $1130.

Romney rams ranged from $600 to $3800, the top priced ram purchased by Peter and Diane Lowe from Ashburton, and Southdown rams sold from $450 to $3000.

Mr and Mrs Robertson, who have the largest Southdown breeding flock in Australasia and the largest registered Romney breeding flock in the South Island, were pleased with the sale result.

The focus at Merrydowns was on keeping the breeds pure with no cross-breeding, Mr Robertson said.

PGG Wrightson Livestock national genetics manager Callum Stewart at the ram sale at Feilding saleyards.

PGG Wrightson Livestock national genetics manager Callum Stewart at the ram sale at Feilding saleyards.

Tis the season to be buying rams for work next year for North Island farmers.

PGG Wrightson Livestock genetic manager, Callum Stewart said farmers would continue to buy two tooth rams at the major sales in the North Island to the end of December, and in the South Island a little later, usually in January and February.

He said central and southern North Island buyers were important at Feilding sales, but buyers came from throughout New Zealand.

“About 50 per cent of rams are sold on farm, and half are sold through national and local sales.”

Stewart observed buyers taking the usual steps during bidding for 127 terminal polled dorset two-tooth rams at the Glengarry 50th ram sale at the Feilding saleyards. 

He said farmers checked rams by looking at their figures on paper, but they had to like the animals as well.

Stewart said they bought bulls the same way – looking at figures first and then running their eyes over a cattle beast as well.

“Buyers are looking for ram with a good constitution. That means good body condition and the ram has to be structurally sound and the loin area is important. They need a good straight back. People want early finishing lambs from rams. That means a ram has to be sound.  It has to service ewes, and has to have good feet and legs.”

Stewart said some farmers wanted early lambs and would be starting mating soon. Others in hill country put the ram out in March, April or June.

He said many farmers wanted a meat breed, and bought a terminal sire, which meant all lambs, male and female went to the meat plant.

“Meat breeds such as the  charollais​, southdown, suffolks, hampshire, dorset and south suffolk. They don’t care so much about wool.  They are thinking meat.”

Other farmers wanted to keep female sheep for replacements and were more inclined to have romneys, coopworths or perendale ewes.

Stewart said the problem with dropping ewe numbers was that ram numbers remained the same. That allowed farmers to people could pick and chose a greater ram selection.

Many ram buyers were looking for facial eczema tolerant rams after the bad year for the disease, which meant fewer lambs, and production losses from ewes.

The North Island ram fair is at Manfeild Park in Feilding on December 13. Wool and meat breeds will be presented with many farmers taking the opportunity to look at rams, before buying starts.

The three generation family that shows together and stays together

Posted by Christina On November - 10 - 2016
The southdown farming trio of Leo Christey, left, Mark Christey, 16, and Andrew Christey.

The southdown farming trio of Leo Christey, left, Mark Christey, 16, and Andrew Christey.

It’s a good job there is no school exam clash for Mark Christey during the Canterbury A&P Show.

Mark is the third generation of his Southbridge family to lead southdown sheep into the judging ring at the annual event.

He accepts school comes first and the show second, but it is a close-run thing.

Three generations of sheep exhibitors - Mark Christey, left, Andrew Christey and Leo Christey.

Three generations of sheep exhibitors – Mark Christey, left, Andrew Christey and Leo Christey.

“Exams are starting today, but not for me. They start on Monday for me, but last year I had to go home for an exam on Thursday.

The 16-year-old from Ellesmere College is in his element in the sheep pens and looks forward to show day each year.

“It’s good to get out and see what other people are doing compared with Dad at home,” Mark said.

“I don’t know how long I have been going to the show. I wouldn’t remember because I was so young when I started.”

At the show are his grandfather Leo, who started the family’s Mapua Southdown Stud in 1963, and grandmother Leonie, a show stalwart.

​Alongside them are father Andrew, sister Sarah with mother Louise an integral part of the farming family.  Each member is involved in their 100 hectare farm which combines mixed cropping with 220 sows, cow grazing, a commercial sheep flock and the prized 130 ewe stud.

Their best show result was top drawer ribbons in the southdown carcass evaluation class and best pair of rams several years ago but since then the wins have been elusive and they have had to settle for second and third placings.

Andrew said his father, Leo, started the stud to breed a “fast fattening” lamb and it continued to meet this criteria with southdowns since developing into a premier meat breed.

“I could see the opportunity when I took over the farm over 10 years ago to carry on with the stud and sell commercial rams.”

Andrew is no stranger to attending the show himself and enjoys the camaraderie, family outing and the competition.

“Because Mum was quite heavily involved in their day they used to go to the Royal Show every year when it was three in the North island and two in the South Island and they used to go everywhere and we grew up going to the show.”

The family farm was bought in 1919 by Mark’s great, great grandfather Jack.

Unsurprisingly, the “dream goal” is for Mark to take over the intensively-run operation after tertiary studies.

He helps with lambing and checking the ewes and is starting to assist his father with selecting stud rams.

“I know a little bit, but not much because there is heaps involved. Dad and Grandad know a lot about sheep, that’s for sure.”

With his family pedigree, it is not any surprise that Mark is a big supporter of the southdown breed.

“Is southdown the best breed in the world? Well, I would have to say that – there is no choice in that one.”