Southdown Sheep Society, NZ

"The sheep with an illustrious past and a very bright future"

New Zealand Agricultural Show: Southdown ewe the mother of all champions

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On November - 25 - 2023
A Southdown ewe bred by Christina Jordan at Willowhaugh Enterprises will take some beating after giving birth to quadruplets following a symmetrical sequence of lamb deliveries.

A Southdown ewe bred by Christina Jordan at Willowhaugh Enterprises will take some beating after giving birth to quadruplets following a symmetrical sequence of lamb deliveries.

A champion ewe is the mother of all mothers in the show ring.

The 2018-born ewe, 479-18, has produced near-perfect symmetry in her lambing sequence for the past four seasons, rounded out with a quartet of newborns in her latest effort, leading her to claim the Supreme Animal of the Show title at the New Zealand Agricultural Show.

As a ewe hogget, the Southdown ewe from the Jordan family’s Willowhaugh Enterprises delivered a single lamb, no mean feat for a first-time mother.

In year two she gave birth to twins and then triplets in her third lambing.

This season four lambs emerged, and the only minor gripe breeder Christina Jordan could come up with was the ewe-to-ram lamb ratio could have been reversed.

“She’s got three ewe lambs and one ram lamb though, so maybe she hasn’t quite got the symmetry right.

“Maybe she wants to increase the flock size quickly, I don’t know.

“I think she could go back the other way now, probably to triplets or twins.

“I would be quite happy as a lot can go wrong from the time they scan them and find they are having four.”

Virtually self-selected by this record, Jordan placed her in the New Zealand Agricultural Show and was rewarded with a red ribbon in the Southdown ewe over 30 months with lambs at foot class, before going on to win the supreme title.

“This is the first time she’s been in any show actually and amazing, she’s done it all herself.

“She’s reared all her lambs so now she’s had 13 of them and she’s 5 years old.

“She’s just one of the team who does the hard work and comes up with the goods.”

By the end of the first day, the show ring debutante added Supreme Champion Southdown, All Breeds Super Ewe, Supreme Meat Sheep of the Show and the big one – Supreme Animal of the Show to cap it all off.

Her quadruplets weighed in last week at an impressive total of 134 kilograms.

Jordan runs the stud with her nearly 97-year-old father, Ian, at Woodbourne near Blenheim airport.

She said the ewe had earned her money, as her daughter of a few years ago also won the 18-month to 30-month class at the show with twins, after lambing the previous year as a hogget.

Top mothering skills aside, she passes on her genetics freely as a ram lamb of hers was used for breeding within the stud.

Her high SIL figures for maternal, udder, meat and terminal values also stack up.

“The quads were born at the back paddock and I keep them near Dad’s house so he can keep an eye on the triplets. We only had nine triplets and one quad.

“He’s just in raptures over it and only has rose-tinted glasses for her.

“I think it’s quite emotional seeing a ewe with her four lambs and she’s had them all, she’s reared them all and we haven’t had to do anything.

“So to get them to the show all alive and relatively even is a real credit to her.”

Over time, he’s observed the ewe managing the feeding of her progeny two at a time before rotating the other pair half an hour later.

Her ewe lambs will end up as flock replacements and the ram lamb may eventually be sold to free up bloodlines.

As well as the 180 pedigree Southdown ewes and 40 hoggets, the family enterprise also runs a commercial flock, jersey dairy cattle, a Charolais stud and a vineyard at home base.

The Jordans’ Southdowns are sold at the Canterbury Elite Ram Fair and for the past three years, they have run an online ram sale in November.

Jordan said she’d had a quad-birthing ewe once before and had no desire to raise this to quintuplets next year.