Southdown Sheep Society, NZ

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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.”

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.

Farmers discuss the benefits of Southdowns on Southern Tour

Posted by The Roving Shepherd On May - 17 - 2021
Group photo from 2021 Southdown Sheep Society tour to Southland

Group photo from 2021 Southdown Sheep Society Lower South Tour


Tour Report courtesy ODT Rural News – Article and photos below by Shawn McAvinue 

A tour of Southern farms running Southdown sheep featured discussions about hogget lambing and the traits of the breed farmers must “protect at all costs”.

About 40 people from throughout the country attended the Southdown Sheep Society of New Zealand’s national southern tour last week.

Tour stops included Don Murray’s Riverside stud in Waitahuna, about 10km southeast of Lawrence. Southern Southdown Breeders Club member Roger Keach, of Waihola, started proceedings by quizzing the visitors.

“Who played at two test matches — All Blacks and New Zealand Kiwis — on the same day in Auckland in 1946?” Visitors pondered the question as Mr Murray introduced himself and talked about his system breeding Southdowns on his 550ha farm.

He talked about lambing Southdown hoggets.

“I don’t like skiting but I reckon I’ve just about nutted this hogget lambing — it’s not without its fish-hooks but lambing late seems to help with survival and lambing problems,” Mr Murray said.

He had sold “quite a few lambs for hogget mating” and it had been “working really good” for his clients.

A client in the district had success on his first attempt at hogget lambing.

“Out of 180 lambs, he got 150 on the truck at 17.5kg, so if we can aim to do that, you’re starting to make some real money.”

When he started hogget lambing it was a “balls- up”.

“You’d have a good hogget and you’d pull the lamb out and it would wander away and be buggered but now our sheep have improved and I’ve become a bit of a convert.” Most of the improvements were due to providing quality feed to the hoggets.

“You can blame the ram all you like but if that hogget’s not there … ”

His system included lambing in mid-September and spreading fertiliser in November, in a bid to fatten the lambs and get them to the meatworks sooner.

“That seems to be working pretty good.” The Southdown traits he believed farmers should “protect at all costs” was its ability to mature early, thrive in tough weather conditions, the uniformity of the breed and its ease of lambing.

The first trait he looked for when selecting a ewe lamb was the condition of its feet and its ability to “stand up tall and strong”.

The second trait was its “head cover”, he said.

A topic of discussion was how much wool to remove from the head of a Southdown and when to do it to give it the best chance of survival.

A North Canterbury farmer on the tour said the first trait he looked for when selecting for improvements was the ability of a ewe to produce milk for her lambs.

Consequently, recording weaning weights was important to make future ewe selection decisions, he said.

Another topic Mr Murray raised for discussion was whether switching from conventional tagging to DNA tagging could increase lambing per centages.

If a twin or a triplet lamb was tagged conventionally, it could result in its mother abandoning it and impacting on survival rates.

“The ewes are doing better as I’m [conventional] tagging, but I am thinking quite seriously of doing DNA tagging.”

The only part of DNA tagging which “scares” him was upsetting any long-term clients by switching tagging method. “That makes me nervous,” Mr Murray said.

Club member John Macaulay, of Timaru, said he had been breeding Southdown sheep for more than 60 years and was on a tour of Riverside stud nine years ago.

“In those nine years you’ve improved out of sight, no doubt. You have some magnificent ewes.”

Other tour stops included the Lammermoor Stud in the Maniototo, Merrydowns stud in Waikoikoi, Lilliesleaf Stud in Waikaka, Aniwaniwa Stud in Pomahaka, Otepuni Stud in Invercargill and Mt Annan Stud in Waikoikoi.

The answer to Mr Keach’s brainteaser: the Mount Roskill Brass Band.


Punchbowl marks a century of ram breeding

Posted by Christina On February - 7 - 2016

Published in Central Rural Life Dec 9 2015

Henry Andrew Punchbowl

Legacy . . . Henry Andrew set the standard for Southdown rams with the likes of this champion. This image was painted from a photograph from the 1960s and hangs in the Punchbowl homestead.

A century of ram breeding has been celebrated at North Otago’s Punchbowl Farm.

Doug and Jeannie Brown have been living at the property near Maheno since 1989, continuing the family farming business established by Mr Brown’s maternal grandfather, Henry Andrew, in 1915.

Mr Andrew spent 70 years on the land, crafting a reputation as a breeder of exceptional Southdown sheep.

In a 1977 edition of N.Z. Meat & Wool, writer R.M. Moir said ‘‘. . .it would be very hard to place anyone above Mr H.J. Andrew in the field of improving New Zealand’s livestock’’.

‘‘His contribution to our farm production, through his work of improvement in Southdown sheep, has been of tremendous importance and must place him among the greatest sheep breeders seen in New Zealand,’’ the article said.

It credited Mr Andrew for keeping this country at the top of the world export lamb market.

‘‘Breeders from all over New Zealand clamoured to buy Henry Andrew’s famous sheep and the the ‘Punchbowl’ type became the standard aimed at by all successful breeders.’’

The flock was founded with ewes from H. Pannett and J.B. Reid, and rams imported from England.

Mr Andrew dominated sheep shows for decades. Even after he stopped exhibiting his stock, championships were won by their progeny.

Punchbowl rams set world record prices for Southdowns at the Feilding Stud Ram Fair in the 1940s and 1950s. From 1964, when Mr Andrew began holding his own annual sale at the farm, the prices paid were often the highest of the year for the breed.

Punchbowl sheep were exported to England, the United States, Australia, and Japan.

Mr Brown said his grandfather was ‘‘a perfectionist’’, with the farm immaculately tidy. Most of the fence posts on the property were painted white, which was possible in times of abundant labour.

‘‘He was a bit of a legend.’’

Mr Andrew dispersed his Southdown stud in 1978 and his Poll Dorset stud about 1984.

When the Browns moved into the Punchbowl homestead, they continued to develop the Suffolk stud they had already founded. They also breed Poll Dorsets.

‘‘Suffolk and Poll Dorset rams are dominant breeds in the Central Progeny Test for outstanding growth to weaning with 15 out of the top 25 sires being from these breeds,’’ Mr Brown said.

‘‘We have concentrated on breeding medium-framed, thick, hardier Suffolks and Poll Dorsets without compromising growth.’’

The Browns have crossed both the Suffolk and Poll Dorset with Texel to produce lambs that perform well in areas with dry summers. They mature early and are hardy and high-yielding.

Today’s Punchbowl rams are the progeny of more than 1000 SIL (Sheep Improvement Ltd) recorded ewes, with only the top 30% retained for sale.
Most clients are in South Canterbury and North and East Otago’s eastern dryland, where conditions are similar to Punchbowl’s.

Mr Brown said sheep farming got harder as ewe numbers dropped, but ‘‘big production gains’’ in recent decades had helped to hold up the industry in terms of meat output.

‘‘I’d like to think it will stabilise.’’

The Browns planned to continue breeding rams, but were also branching out by investing in the North Otago Irrigation Company’s expansion. A block of land near Totara would be watered from September next year with two centre-pivots.

The land use was not yet decided, but could include more lamb finishing and beef grazing.

Mr Brown is standing down after 14 years as a director of the Alliance Group meat processing cooperative when its annual meeting is held in Oamaru on December 17.

You can read more about Punchbowl here in our history pages

Farm holds long family history

Posted by Christina On June - 27 - 2012
Omakau Southdown Breeder Donny Maclean

Omakau Southdown breeder Donny Maclean with some of the sheep on display during a New Zealand Southdown southern tour.

The Maclean family, of Omakau, will next year mark 60 years of breeding Southdown sheep.

Don Maclean started the Bellfield Southdown stud in 1953 and the stud now encompasses 120 ewes.

Bellfield was one of 11 properties visited during the New Zealand Southdown southern tour which was hosted in Otago and Southland last week.

The property is farmed by Donny and Cathy Maclean, their daughter Kate, and Mr Maclean’s parents, Don and Win.

All five contributed to the running of the farm, with a small amount of casual labour employed for lamb marking and haymaking.

Bellfield was taken up in 1889 by Donny Maclean’s great-great-grandfather, upon his arrival from the Orkney Islands.

The family landed at Port Chalmers, taking the train to Dunback and then walked to Omakau, a journey that took four days.

Mr Maclean’s great-great-grandfather went blind on the ship on the way to New Zealand and so his two sons and a daughter led him by the hand on the long journey. The elder son broke his leg three miles from their destination.

With some additions to the original property over the years, the Maclean family now farms 890ha, of which half is under flood irrigation and the remainder is unirrigated.

As well as the Southdown stud, a South Suffolk stud was added in 1986 and a Dorset Down stud in 1992.

The family runs 2150 crossbred ewes and 650 stud ewes, 670 crossbred hoggets, 165 stud ram hoggets and 180 stud ewe hoggets. They also run 1100 merino wether hoggets on the hill and 100 cattle.

A lot of emphasis was placed on performance recording of the stud sheep, Donny Maclean said.

“We want to know that we are able to present our clients with as much information as they require about the sires we produce.

“They can go away happy in the knowledge that the rams they have purchased are proven to give them maximum returns for their farming business,” he said.

Australian Southdown Breeder Graeme Dehnert

Australian Southdown breeder Graeme Dehnert has been enjoying his first trip to New Zealand.

About 45 people were on the tour, including some Australian visitors. Graeme Dehnert, from the Fernhill stud in Victoria, was on his first trip to New Zealand.

Last year, some New Zealand breeders visited his property as part of a tour and he decided it was an opportunity to catch up with people and see some sheep.

He is also returning in November for the Canterbury A and P Show.

Mr Dehnert has 180 stud ewes, along with a flock of commercial ewes, a cattle share-farming operation and some cropping on the 400ha property.

The Southdown stud was established by his father in 1930 and the breed was “in the blood”.

He won champion Southdown ram at the Royal Melbourne Show last year.

Southland Southdown Breeders Club chairman Rob Hall believed the breed was in good heart in New Zealand.

Describing it as “go-ahead”, he said there was a lot of potential, especially for breeding early lambs. Getting lambs away early was “money in the bank”.

Ram sales had gone well this year and it was encouraging to see some new studs being established.

The first Southdown stud flock in New Zealand was founded in 1863.