Southdown Sheep Society, NZ

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Archive for the ‘Southdown News’ Category

Annual Southdown Tour & AGM 2024

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On May - 19 - 2024
Group photo from Southdown Tour 2024

Group photo from Southdown Tour 2024 – click image for close-up

The Manwatu and Wairarapa Southdown Tour and AGM began at Palmerston North on the 6th May, 2024 with the late afternoon AGM and then a dinner at the Copthorne Hotel.

On Tuesday 7th May, we boarded a bus with  14 to start with and over the two day added a further two.  We left Palmerston North on a fine morning and went to Silverdale Stud – Diane and Janet Gray’s at Rongotea. We looked over a very good line of Stud sheep.  From there we then headed south towards Levin and looked at the Stud Flock of Cory Prouting. Again a very good line up of Stud Sheep, and also in the cattle yards some very good Hereford Cows.

Leaving there we headed back to  Massey University and had a very delicious lunch at Wharerata then onto the Massey Veterinary School and went through the large animal section with a very good female lecturer telling us about what is done as it is the Vet training section.  Leaving there it was over the Pahiatua track and onto the Wairarapa desert and arrived at Solway Park Hotel Masterton.

The following morning Wednesday 2nd May  and a good frost we again got onto the bus and went North East to Rob and Lucy Thorneycroft. Beautiful Autumn tones of the trees and the grape vines  and oh the country so dry.  We were welcomed by Lucy and and then able to look over their Stud. Great how good Southdown’s handle the dry conditions.  Another very good flock and they had some of their Stud Angus sale Bulls for the experts to walk through and comment on.  The Bulls were big strong animals and very quiet.

We waved them good-bye and headed south to Jill Baird’s Wiri flock.  Again a different line of very good sheep that were handling the very dry conditions well.

After Jill’s we went to the Gladstone Inn and after that we heading back to Solway and farewelled 8 of our group who climbed onto a mini bus that took them to Wellington to catch flights South.  The others of us came back to Palmerston North by car and farewelled each other there.

Even though there was not a large number on the Tour it was still a very happy gathering and as always hosts seem to think Southdown breeders are hungry and provide such nice food along the way.  Like the Southdown sheep we saw at the four studs we all went home in good condition.

To all who attended we thank Jill and Janet for  arranging and hosting the tour.

One of our newest Southdown Studs featured on Wonderwall!

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On May - 18 - 2024
Charlee Hazlett and Ellavetta - “not only adorable, but entrepreneurial’’

Charlee Hazlett and Ellavetta – “not only adorable, but entrepreneurial’’

Sometimes a sweet little story deserves big-time treatment.

So it proved with one of the most striking murals to emerge from this month’s South Sea Spray street art festival in Winton.

SwiftMantis (Mikal Carter) of Palmerston North, who in late 2022 painted the celebrated Strangs cat on Invercargill’s Esk St WEA building, has this time turned his talents to the story of young Charlee Hazlett and Ellavetta.

Charlee was just 4 when she and her little sister Greer were gifted pet lambs.

Charlee raised Ellavetta to be a prize-winner and now, at 8, she has a flock of 85, which she manages with Greer – officially registered as Hazlett Southdowns under C&G Hazlett.

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Seeing herself up there on the wall – “it’s really cool’’, Charlee said.

She was also impressed that SwiftMantis managed to get Ellavetta’s wool just right.

“I go to St Thomas Aquinas in Winton and my class has just walked around all the paintings,’’ she said.

When they got to hers – “they really liked it’’.

Central Southland College principal Grant Dick said the project stood as a reminder of the community spirit and the importance of nurturing shared spaces.

“The incredible talent and creativity of the artists involved have not only brought beauty and vibrancy to our surroundings, but have also sparked a sense of pride amongst us all,’’ he said.

“I believe the breathtaking murals will become part of Winton’s identity and will have a lasting impact on our community.’’

Charlee Hazlett and lamb, Ellavetta in front of the mural in Winton.

Charlee Hazlett and lamb, Ellavetta in front of the mural in Winton.

 

Sale of prized ram puts more than 4000 meals on tables

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On February - 13 - 2024
The sale of Waimate breeder Chris Medlicott’s ram has provided more than 4000 meals for people experiencing food insecurity across Aotearoa.

The sale of Waimate breeder Chris Medlicott’s ram has provided more than 4000 meals for people experiencing food insecurity across Aotearoa.

More than 4000 meals have been provided for less fortunate families from the generosity of one man and the sale of his prized ram.

Chris Medlicott, a breeder for Clifton Downs Southdown Stud, donated the proceeds from the ram he sold in his November on-farm sale to two charities that help to feed less fortunate families.

Every year, Medlicott hosts a ram sale of up to 80 sheep. After seeing South Canterbury breeding organisation Shrimpton’s Hill Herefords donate a bull to Meat the Need and Feed Out, Medlicott said making his own donation after the sale was a no-brainer.

The charities helped to turn donations of cash, livestock and milk into meals for families with help from Silver Fern Farms, Miraka and Fonterra.

The proceeds from Medlicott’s ram sale created 4295 mince and milk meals for 110 food banks and community organisations nationwide through the help of a number of charities.

Waimate breeder Chris Medlicott hosts a ram and sheep sale at his farm every year.

Waimate breeder Chris Medlicott hosts a ram and sheep sale at his farm every year.

Medlicott said being able to donate homegrown protein to families facing food insecurity was priceless.

“It’s always a good feeling that you’re helping someone in need, and in all walks of life, really,” he said.

“I’m really proud that we produce top quality New Zealand food, but there are some people in this country who can’t afford to eat it.

“We want all New Zealanders eating produce off our farms and that was really the reason for me to donate.”

Meat the Need is a national charity helping to connect farmers with charities to help put food on the table for struggling Kiwis.

Meat the Need is a national charity helping to connect farmers with charities to help put food on the table for struggling Kiwis.

He said times were tough on farms, with inflation the highest it had been in 40 years at 16.3%, but donating was something Medlicott was passionate about and would continue to do.

“Donating is always a good thing to do, to be honest I think New Zealand society has lost the giving aspect a wee bit, so it’s nice to be able to make a bit of an impact on whoever needs it.”

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The PGG Wrightson auctioneer also chose to donate their commission to the causes.

Probe tech data to help farmers marble meat better

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On December - 3 - 2023
Alliance Group's Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef has been voted the best grass-fed ribeye steak in the world.

Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef has been voted the best grass-fed ribeye steak in the world.

Alliance Group will be deploying probes created by an Australian company to measure the marbling of beef and intramuscular fat percentage in lamb.

This, according to the meat processor, will provide consistent meat quality across the board. A higher intramuscular fat (IMF) percentage would equal a good outcome.

Alliance Group livestock and shareholder services general manager Murray Behrent said the probe will go in the 12th rib of the lamb and cattle beast, analysing how much IMF or marbling there was prior to going across the scales.

According to the company, IMF and marbling percentages were the two largest contributors to the sensory experience when eating red meat.

Farmers would benefit from the data by making informed decisions around their breeding programs, where they were buying from, and what feed would give them the best returns (a reticular feed enabled a higher marbling on the animal), Behrent said.

The probes, made by MEQ, had been trialled at the company’s Timaru and Ōamaru plants for the past nine months, and would be rolled out to other locations, including Southland, in the coming months.

“Once the probes are rolled out across all the lamb and beef chains, we’ll send the farmers data on how their animals have performed.

“Then, over time, we will be able to start telling farmers which animals have high intramuscular fat and what those farmers are doing to achieve those good outcomes,” Behrent said.

The probe would also help in detecting if the IMF was consistent across lambs from different mobs.

Alliance Group’s meat consumer – the retailer or the food service or chef – would get a consistent product, giving the end consumer the same experience with the food, Behrent said.

“It’s all about consistency of the product. That taste is really important for chefs when cooking the product,” he said.

In Southland, the first machines would be rolled out from December and the rollout would be finished by the end of March 2024.

“I do know that part of marbling or intramuscular fat is driven by genetics and feed. Southland is in a good space to provide animal welfare because of the abundance of feed. All animals always have surplus grass to eat, and that good quality feed will ensure a higher probability of marbling,” Behrent said.

The probe claimed to withstand “the extremes of the processing environment” and cause “zero damage to the product”, according to its website.

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.

A&P show a way to remember ancestors – Neville Moorhead

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On October - 28 - 2023
Southdown sheep breeder Neville Moorhead, 82, has gone through the ranks from being a sheep exhibitor, steward, convener, president, life member and patron at the Ellesmere A&P Show.

Southdown sheep breeder Neville Moorhead, 82, has gone through the ranks from being a sheep exhibitor, steward, convener, president, life member and patron at the Ellesmere A&P Show. PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW

A Southbridge farmer whose great, great uncle competed at the Ellesmere A&P Association’s first show in 1871 is keeping the family legacy alive, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Neville Moorhead stretches easily over a fence before running a practiced eye over a small mob of Southdown rams to make his final cut.

The powerfully-framed stud sires cluster together before jostling to a corner of the front paddock at Holly Farm in Canterbury’s Southbridge.

It’s the day before the Ellesmere A&P Show and the 82-year-old, who turns over another year in December, shows no sign of nerves.

That’s to be expected from a veteran sheep exhibitor, who was in a pram for his first show and hasn’t missed one since.

The show’s honorary life member and patron can trace his family’s connection to the first event in 1871.

Staged in a borrowed paddock, a Moorhead was among the exhibitors.

“The first show ever held was in Southbridge township and one of the relatives, a great, great uncle, something like that, exhibited a pair of Clydesdales and was successful in winning with them. That’s where it came from and I suppose where I got a bit determined. You try to keep things going for as long as you can. It hasn’t been unbroken all the same.”

The 150-year link is a remarkable effort by one family.

His grandfather, Hugh Galpin, exhibited sheep with his uncle, Jack Galpin, as far as Timaru, travelling with their stock entries, mainly pigs. Larger pigs in crates were stacked from the bottom with lighter pigs in smaller crates on top and they would leave at about 2am for a day at the show.

Another grandfather, James Moorhead, achieved 50 years as steward in Ellesmere’s Jersey section.

His father, W.E. “Mac” Moorhead was president in 1960 and a patron and his brother, Murray, a class steward in the sheep section for 50 years.

Mr Moorhead said his family were keen stock people and it was only natural they wanted to exhibit animals.

“My mother lived up here and the family never had a car, but she used to exhibit sewing and cooking.

“She would ride the push bike down [eight kilometres] to the show in the morning with the basket in the front full of the cooking and that sort of thing.

“So there’s been that connection with the show for a long time. My family through the Galpins, Hurfords and the Moorheads have obviously been keen all the way through and keen on the stock breeding side so I guess that’s how it’s evolved.”

A competitive streak also explains the long run year-in and year-out.

Mr Moorhead is well past the 50-year mark. In his first year as the class steward in the Ryeland — an old English sheep breed — section he was probably 14 or 15-years-old and has been involved ever since. He was convener of the sheep committee a year after the show’s centenary in 1970 and carried this on for many years until becoming president for the 1988 show on a day of howling winds.

Neville Moorhead, left, with the champion Corriedale ewe and father Mac Moorhead with the champion Corriedale ram at the 1987 Ellesmere A&P Show.

Neville Moorhead, left, with the champion Corriedale ewe and father Mac Moorhead with the champion Corriedale ram at the 1987 Ellesmere A&P Show. PHOTO: ELLESMERE A&P ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES

Four daughters exhibited pet lambs in their younger years before moving on from farming.

Today he still organises the stock judging for Young Farmers club members and his association with this organisation goes back to 1957.

The mixed-cropping farmer spent a lifetime growing processed peas, wheat, barley and white clover for seed on rich Paparoa silt loam soils in the district.

Southdowns and Corriedales played a large role in the mix. For many years they put Southdown rams to the Corriedale ewes for prime lambs.

The Southdown stud was established in 1935 by his father, and the Corriedales in 1957. The first Southdowns came from the nearby Oakleigh farm owned by Canterbury Seed Company when the flock was dispersed in 1945 and others from the Andrew family.

Mr Moorhead can remember helping drive the new Corriedale arrivals home from the now defunct Southbridge railway station. The Hawarden ewes had been transported by rail and got a chance to stretch their legs in the short journey to the family farm. The railway’s long gone, but the sheep are still there.

He broke away from his father at a young age to farm on his own in 1963, as a 22-year-old. Just over 160ha were leased for five years.

“I was pretty fortunate to have that opportunity to farm that. It was just down the road from the family farm and I tried to keep the stud work going down there, but it was a bit distant really.

“It was solely commercial and I had mixed cropping there again and I had 1000 ewes and a couple hundred hoggets. They were very good sheep too — Romney Merinos — and another indication of changing times was that prime lambs for the works one year made three pounds.”

That was good money and, once inflation is accounted for, more than he’s getting now.

After the four years elapsed, he bought a small block next to his father’s farm and has remained there since.

Part of the land across the road was his grandfather’s.

As he’s aged and the sheep “have got faster”, he’s leased some of the 114ha property to a neighbour across the road and more land to a farmer growing organic beans and potatoes.

Apart from the help of Frances Donald during lambing over the past nine years, he still runs the farm himself.

That’s left him with his stud sheep on a smaller working base with the cropping left to others.

“I’d rather be with the sheep to be quite honest. It’s just the love of animals I guess and breeding. It’s probably because I’ve had a big background since I was that big,” he said, reaching to the floor.

“My Galpin grandfather farmed Lymington, next door to Jo’s farm, on the Rakaia side of Holly Farm. They had several breeds of stud sheep and pigs. I was up at his place every weekend so I had a bit of background up there and then on the other side of the Hurford family they had Jersey cattle and pigs again so I had no choice, but I still had to enjoy it to carry on. I still enjoy trying to breed a slightly better one than last year.”

The Jo he’s referring to is Jo Jermyn Benny, author of the updated Ellesmere A&P Show history called Beyond the Show Gates.

Mr Moorhead’s story is one of many in the publication — just a bit longer than most — and the pair share the same bond for the show and have farming ties.

Southdown and Corriedale sheep breeder Neville Moorhead at Holly Farm in Canterbury’s Southbridge with Jo Jermyn Benny, author of an updated history of the Ellesmere A&P Show called Beyond the Show Gates.

Southdown and Corriedale sheep breeder Neville Moorhead at Holly Farm in Canterbury’s Southbridge with Jo Jermyn Benny, author of an updated history of the Ellesmere A&P Show called Beyond the Show Gates. PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW

The book updates two earlier editions of the show’s history to bring it up to speed.

Ms Jermyn Benny grew up in Marlborough on a sheep and cattle farm on the south side of Awatere Valley. Her husband, Andrew Benny, also has Marlborough connections, his mother growing up in the historic Langley Dale homestead, in Northbank, Wairau Valley, but he was raised in Canterbury.

They farm a mixed cropping and fine wool flock just up the road from Holly Farm, with the Benny family having farmed in the Southbridge district since the 1860s. In fact, the Benny family built the homestead on Holly Farm where Mr Moorhead lives now.

Ms Jermyn Benny visited the Ellesmere show while she was at Lincoln University, before marrying and moving to the district.

Their show link is also strong with Mr Benny on the A&P show committee since 2004 and was president over the challenging Covid-19 lockdown era.

Because of that he’s one of just three presidents to hold more than a one-year term. He was due to lead the show for its 150th anniversary in 2020 until it was postponed for the following year with attendance restricted to exhibitors to the disappointment of the community.

It was the first time the show was cancelled since 1942 during World War Two.

Ms Jermyn Benny has enjoyed researching the show’s history while updating events of the past 25 years. With the assistance of local historian Mike Noonan more stories and photographs were added to the accounts of earlier editions.

Records were lost to a 1906 fire which made it difficult to find early details, but there was no shortage of information more recently from monthly meetings and annual reports, she said.

Somewhat surprisingly, two conversation points have consistently raised their head.

“I’ve seen the early minutes and if you look right through from the 1900s to now the two key topics that keep coming up are traffic and toilets. Literally toilets are mentioned at almost at every meeting and the progression of facilities.

“Neville and I had a great day driving around at the showgrounds when we first started the project. He’s got a phenomenal memory for where buildings had been moved on sleds and the ring reconfigured and a lot of history that few people would have any idea about.”

Thousands of people turn up for the show, claimed to be the largest one-day A&P show in the South Island with the Mackenzie show also somewhere in this mix.

Mr Moorhead said the show had survived and grown because of a strong farming community and the rise of trade sites selling products over the years.

“There isn’t as many sheep in the district as there once was and the dairy has really taken off, but not at the expense of the stud breeding at the show. Some years ago there were many Jersey, Friesian and shorthorn studs in the district and they did exhibit at the show, whereas today there are very few of them.

“So, things have changed immensely and when you take where I am through to the Rakaia bridge thousands of sheep have gone out of that area to cattle and that’s one of the big changes I’ve seen.

“The cattle have dropped away at the show and pigs have dropped away. There are still a few sheep studs of various breeds in Ellesmere, but at their peak, goodness gracious, there would be one at nearly every road. That’s going back sometime, but shows you how numbers have dropped away.”

For all that, sheep entries have held up during show day, he said.

Ellesmere also receives about 1000 horse entries to keep the stock side strong.

Canterbury Southdown and Corriedale breeder Neville Moorhead was a six-year-old sitting on the ring pipe at the top of the showgrounds during the Ellesmere A&P Show’s grand parade in 1947.

Canterbury Southdown and Corriedale breeder Neville Moorhead was a six-year-old sitting on the ring pipe at the top of the showgrounds during the Ellesmere A&P Show’s grand parade in 1947. PHOTO: ELLESMERE A&P ASSOCIATION ARCHIVE

Mr Moorhead said long-established names of farming families remaining in the district had also created show loyalty.

 

Thumbing through a long list of presidents dating back to Reverend William Bluett in 1870, many of the same surnames crop up, as the next generation lines up for service.

The community-minded Moorheads have a long association with the local Anglican church with Mr Moorhead ringing the Sunday bell since he was 13-year-old.

Another tie that goes way back is his connection with the New Zealand Young Farmers Club and he was made a life member in 2014.

“With those three groups I sort of believe in joining and belonging to something and trying to attend it and do it well rather than belong to five or six organisations and send apologies to half of them. That’s just my attitude.”

He had 35 to 40 Lincoln University students at his farm recently, going through the fundamentals of sheep breeding and showing them the value of carcass conformation and other traits.

Some of them might go on to show sheep, while others would bank this knowledge when they bought their own stock, he said.

Over the course of decades of exhibiting sheep at Ellesmere he couldn’t count how many ribbons — many of them red — he’s won. Some of them are on the sideboard in the hallway and others stored in a bag.

Among many notable wins, a stand-out was a Southdown ram which went on from the Ellesmere show to become the champion sheep three years in a row at the Canterbury A&P Show in Christchurch about a decade ago. The ram won as a hogget, two tooth and four tooth and was a mainstay sire at the Holly Farm stud and there’s still 50 straws from him banked away.

Before that, another two champion ewes won their classes when the Southdown competitions were particularly strong at the Christchurch event.

Mr Moorhead had another good result in the sheep pens, winning several red ribbons at the Ellesmere A&P Show on October 14 in strong winds unseen since he was president of the 1988 event.

A silver cigarette case presented to him at a centenary show and a sugar bowl are prized possessions.

Ms Jermyn Benny said Mr Moorhead’s show longevity would take some beating.

“There’s not that many around that have that connection and kept it up. Neville is an active A&P person and I can’t think of anybody that would embody that A&P movement more than him. The fact that Neville was racing around the other day trying to find stock judges for the Young Farmers competition at the Ellesmere show just shows his commitment.”

Close to the front of the book is a photograph of the grand parade with men dressed in suits and women in hats and their finest dresses. Behind them are 1920s, 1930s and 1940s cars in neat rows.

As the horses and calves marched past the crowd a young Mr Moorhead, only 6 at the time, was sitting on the ring pipe at the top of the showgrounds watching the parade in about 1947.

The memory of those animals going past remains with him like yesterday.

He can’t imagine ever stopping showing.

“I will keep going for as long as I can. I don’t know how long it will be, but I’m still keen.”

Ram prices continue to rise

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On December - 9 - 2022
Blair Robertson

Merrydowns Romney and Southdown Stud owner Blair Robertson in a pen of his Romney stud sires at his 14th annual on-farm ram sale in Waikoikoi last week.

The pursuit to breed structurally sound, high-performing commercial rams continues in West Otago.

Merrydowns Romney and Southdown Stud owner Blair Robertson said prices were slightly up at his 14th annual on-farm ram sale in Waikoikoi last week.

Of the 123 Romneys on offer, 111 sold for an average of $1750, including a top price of $7000.

Of the 90 Southdowns on offer, 83 sold for an average of $1300, including a top price of $4800.

“It’s probably the best group of Romneys and Southdowns I’ve put up.”

Rams were sold to buyers between Wairoa and Invercargill “and everywhere in-between”.

The Sheep Improvement Limited figures for his flock had increased this season, particularly for the Romneys, he said.

Commercial traits in his flock continued to improve as the figures in the genetic evaluation database rise, he said.

When asked if he trusted the numbers, he replied: “I love the numbers, but there has got to be a sheep there. You’ve got to have a structurally-sound, high-performance, commercial animal first. There’s no point having high numbers and the rams can’t shag ewes or they’ve got crook feet and they pack up or they’ve got a short jaw and they won’t survive.”

Getting the sheep type and database numbers right was a balancing act, he said.

The family had been breeding sheep for more than a century and ran the biggest Southdown flock in the world, he said.

His Romney flock was “1200-ewes strong”.

“We are ridiculously tough on them in terms of culling and we are starting to see the benefits of that — we have bone, carcass and performance.”

He would continue to improve the flock and this season had bought three Romney rams from the North Island and a Southdown ram from Canterbury.

“They are four bloody good rams.”

Credit: Shawn McAvinue

2022 Flock Book Published

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On August - 7 - 2022

The NZ Southdown Society Flock Book for 2022 has been published and non-members and interested visitors  can view it online here

Stud owners ready for a new chapter

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On March - 7 - 2022

[Story by Sally Rae]

Doug and Jeannie Brown are holding dispersal sales from their long-established Punchbowl sheep stud

Doug and Jeannie Brown are holding dispersal sales from their long-established Punchbowl sheep stud

For more than a century, the Punchbowl name has been synonymous with stud sheep breeding in North Otago.

But a new chapter is looming for its current owners, Doug and Jeannie Brown, who are holding ewe dispersal sales in Oamaru this month.

It was Mr Brown’s grandfather Henry (HJ) Andrew — a legendary figure in the stud sheep industry — who came to Punchbowl, near Maheno, in 1915 after graduating from Lincoln College.

Originally from the Leeston area, he shifted south with his parents and began breeding Southdowns. Over time, his Southdown stud became very prominent at a time when Southdowns were the main terminal sire breed in New Zealand. He exported sheep to many parts of the world and also imported sires.

In his later years, he held a very successful annual sale at the North Otago A&P showgrounds before dispersing the Southdowns in 1978. He had also established a Poll Dorset stud in 1970.

After his death in 1985, the Punchbowl property was run as an estate until 1989 when Doug and Jeannie Brown bought it.

The Poll Dorset stud was re-established while a Suffolk stud, established in 1977 by Doug and his brother Andrew, was transferred to Punchbowl.

Numbers were built up through the 1990s to give more selection pressure and, in 2000, Texel sires were purchased to establish both the Suffolk-Texel and Poll Dorset-Texel studs. Stud ewe numbers peaked at 1300 in 2017 when just short of 2000 stud lambs were tagged.

About 150 Suffolk ewes and 400 Suffolk-Texel ewes will be on sale at the Waiareka saleyards, in Oamaru, on February 15, starting at 1pm, along with ewe lambs and stud sires.

The following week, on February 22, 80 Poll Dorset ewes and 500 Poll Dorset-Texel ewes will be offered, along with ewe lambs and stud sires.

Mr Brown, who acknowledged he was probably always destined
to be a farmer, said one of his farming highlights had been moving to Punchbowl.

He also recalled topping the trifecta of stud ram fairs in New Zealand — the North Island, Christchurch and Gore sales — for Suffolk rams one year.

There had been many changes in the industry over the years and, probably the biggest change for the Browns had been the move into cross-breeding.

The decline in sheep numbers, particularly in North Otago, had affected ram sales although they were now selling over a wider area, including clients in the Strath Taieri. Rams would still be available for sale next year.

Mr Brown has had a strong industry involvement, including with Federated Farmers, as a farmer-elected director of Alliance Group from 2001 to 2015 and as a long-serving Otago regional councillor, stepping down in 2019. It was probably winning the grand final of the Young Farmer of the Year contest in 1984 that gave him some profile which led to other opportunities, he said.

With the couple’s two children, Simon and Alice, not pursuing careers in farming, it was time to move on to the next chapter in their lives, they said.

Agents were reporting strong interest in the sales and it was a time where good lamb prices were being achieved, there was grass around and the outlook for sheepmeat was also strong, Mr Brown said.

Mrs Brown, who did not come from a farming background, had provided strong support. She also works part-time in Oamaru as a physiotherapist.

She laughingly recalled how her rural knowledge had a “watershed moment” back in 1996 when her husband headed overseas for a six-month Nuffield scholarship.

It was in the days before cellphones, she was at home with a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old, and the farm worker left.

Mr Brown travelled throughout Europe and the United Kingdom, looking at the meat industry, while his wife figured out how to fix leaking troughs and deal with problematic electric fences.

“I’m not sure what he learnt, I reckon I learnt more at home here,” she laughed.

Ian Jordan made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On December - 31 - 2021
Ian Jordan, 94 has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the livestock industry.

Ian Jordan, 94, with his daughter, Christina Jordan. Ian has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the livestock industry.

Ian Jordan has come a long way since paying 30 guineas for a stud ewe, and he’s hoping his legs can carry him a little further to enable him to collect his New Year Honours medal.

Blenheim-based Jordan is being made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the livestock industry.

Jordan, 94, is retired from farming duties, but he said he still liked to get involved.

“At 90-years-old I could still plough a paddock. I’m still interested in livestock.”

He is receiving the honour for contributing to sheep and cattle breeding in Marlborough, nationally and internationally.

His first and greatest passion in farming has been breeding Southdown sheep, he said, but his list of roles and achievement stretches far and wide.

Jordan is currently Honorary Judge for the Southdown breed and his Jersey cattle and Southdown sheep are regular exhibitors at Agricultural and Pastoral Shows – numerous trophies for his prize animals decorate his home.

But amongst all his achievements, he said one of the greatest memories of his career was seeing his son, Roger Jordan, place runner-up in a world ploughing contest.

“That was one of my highlights.”

Jordan has grown his expertise in sheep since he bought his first 10 stud ewes in 1956 for 30 guineas each.

These days, he exports Southdown, recently sending a ram to Uruguay and a cargo of the breed to north Japan with an enquiry for more to go to South America, he said.

“That’s how this developed, we’re one of the leaders in the Southdown in New Zealand now. That’s the one where I’ve made so much progress.”

Jordan was born with farming running through his veins and a family history in the industry in Blenheim where he still resides.

He said a lot had changed over the years, with the biggest shift being the transformation of land from grazing to vineyards.

“There is not as much livestock, but there’s still a lot of sheep grazing vineyards.”

With his legs not working the way they used to, Jordan said his children and grandchildren were following in his younger footsteps, taking on the responsibilities of livestock.

“We’ve always liked to keep good stock.”

As for the Order of Merit honour, he said was “surprised” and “very happy to accept it”.

“It’s keeping me wanting to live a bit longer. I want to be able to stand up just to get this medal in early May.”