Southdown Sheep Society, NZ

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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.”

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

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.

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.

Southdown Breaks Record

Posted by Christina On June - 21 - 2016
By Andrew Swallow

Big Money: This Clifton Downs Southdown ewe made $4400

A Southdown ewe fetched what breeders believe was a record price at a one-off auction during the breed society’s recent South Island tour.

The two-tooth from Chris and Shelley Medlicott’s Clifton Downs stud was bought for $4400 by central Canterbury breeder Andrew Christey and Gisborne’s Andrew Powdrell.

Christey said he wanted to introduce the ewe’s genetics to his Mapua stud flock at Southbridge and when he’d seen it and its twin at the Christchurch show he’d liked the phonotype too.

“I want her to produce rams that will work both commercially and stud-wise.

“Commercial rams are our bread and butter and her bloodlines are top-notch,” Christey said.

He and Powdrell agreed before the auction, conducted off-farm by PGG Wrightson at a lunch-stop on the tour, they would team-up to buy the ewe with Powdrell planning to take embryos for implantation in his Turiroa stud flock.

“There was no point us bidding against each other and it’s pleasing that the money will go to a good cause,” Christey noted, reflecting on auction proceeds going towards tour costs and research by the society.

Newly elected Southdown Sheep Society president Todd Armstrong dismissed the suggestion the donation aspect of the sale inflated the price.

“It was a genuine auction.

“We probably needed $1000 out of it for the tour. After that it was because the bidders genuinely wanted it.”

Happy Buyers. Andrew Powdrell and Andrew Christey were satisfied with their days work.

Another auction on the tour, held at John Macaulay’s Tahrua Stud, saw $2600 paid by Ian and Christina Jordan of Willowhaugh stud for a pick of a ewe lamb.

Again the proceeds went to the society.

“It was to raise funds to start investigating a combined approach to a recording scheme to benefit and involve all breeders,” Macauley said.

The work could help find the best genetics across the breed for traits such as growth, meat quality, cold tolerance and sound feet.

“We have to make things happen and continue to be proactive.

“The breed’s already renowned for its fast growth rate and number of lambs finished off their mothers and we need to keep building on that.”

A true terminal sire that’s gone in a hurry

Posted by Christina On March - 2 - 2016

sheepSouthdown breeder Chris Medlicott says farmers too often focus on the price per lamb instead of the return on kilograms of dry matter eaten.

He says more lambs sold off the ewe at weaning equates to higher efficiency, but this is not always achievable on different classes of country.

Medlicott says high lamb weaning weights are achieved by high quality feed, milking ability of the ewe and genetic ability to grow and lay down muscle. He also believes early spring country plays its part.

“For lambs left after weaning, it is important to have them growing at speed. The quicker those lambs exit your farm over summer the more options you have to improve next year’s production or take on trading stock.”

Medlicott says a simple way to work out the value is on a weak schedule price, like that predicted for the upcoming main killing season.

“At $5/kg a 17kg lamb brings $85,” he explains. “Lambs left after the December 10 weaning draft – with an average liveweight of 28kg — at a store value of $2.40/kg bring $67.20 per head.

“But when these lambs reach an average kill weight of 17kg by January 12 it equates to a return of only 28 cents per kilo of drymatter consumed.

“At a later killing date of January 29 the return will only be 23 cents, and if killed on March 20 the return will now be only 14 cents per kilo of dry matter consumed.”

Medlicott says the key message is for farmers to do their sums, taking into account a range of things including climatic conditions.

“Getting lambs away early is one of the strengths of the Southdown breed. A really positive attribute of the Southdown is they don’t suffer a weaning check, so you can be back drafting soon after weaning.

“A true terminal should be exactly that – gone in a hurry.”

Easy lambing with lambs that grow

Posted by Christina On March - 2 - 2016

Easy lambingBy Peter Burke

Roger Tweeds runs 2300 Romney ewes and 200 hoggets on his 300ha farm near Lawrence, Central Otago.

Tweed’s been 30 years on his present farm, a mix of river flats and steep country and typically dry in summer.

He’s experimented with a variety of terminal sires over the years, but has settled with the Southdown which he puts across up to 500 ewes in his B flock and all his ewe hoggets.

Tweed says the Southdown makes for easy lambing and what he likes most is that the lambs grow well and come weaning time he has a good product to sell. He reckons with some other terminal sires he’s tried, while the lambing percentage was good the growth rate was not and that’s what counts!

Tweed says this is especially so with the lambs from the ewe hoggets.

“My place is steep and gets hot in summer. I notice that the Southdown rams and their progeny do well in this environment. I love the Southdown because they just keep on growing,” he says.

He selects his B flock ewes based on how the animals look, not on their age. As for weaning, this depends on the state of the lambs.

“The first lambs are generally weaned in mid-December, a mixture of those put to the terminal sire and those from the commercial flock. I don’t lamb an early mob as some people do.

“For example, last year I weaned after new year. I don’t farm by the calendar, I farm for the betterment of the animals.”

Tweed says the Southdown ram produces a “good meaty sheep” and he’s especially pleased with the lambs from the hoggets. He reckons the weight these lambs put on sets them aside from some other terminal sire breeds available.

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


Waimate southdown stud breeder Chris Medlicott

Waimate southdown stud breeder believes stockmanship plus record keeping, pedigree and understanding what is behind the animal.

Topping ram sales provides undeniable satisfaction for Chris Medlicott, only bettered by producing fertile commercial southdowns, writes Pat Deavoll.

A top price of $16,000 for a southdown ram at the Christchurch Ram and Ewe Fair is just the icing on the cake for stud breeder Chris Medlicott. Record sale prices are satisfying, but remain secondary to the Waimate farmer’s main drive of producing top commercial sheep.

Southdown stud breeder Chris Medlicott had the top price at the recent Christchurch ram sale for his southdown ram Clifton Downs-279-14.

Southdown stud breeder Chris Medlicott had the top price at the recent Christchurch ram sale for his southdown ram Clifton Downs-279-14.

Even so there is no doubt Medlicott is good at what he does. Since 1997 he has consistently topped the sales, and in 2003, and again in 2005, broke the world record for the price paid for a sheep.

“A lot of the guys I sell rams to were getting 400 lambs off mum a few years ago, and now they are getting 900 lambs. I take more pleasure out of that than the record prices my rams make,” he says.

Clifton Downs-279-14 (which topped the Christchurch sale this year) was sought after by several southdown breeders with commercial operations, Medlicott says.

“They all said he was the ram they wanted, which I got a buzz out of. They were bidding up to $10,000, then the price got too high and they fell off. Todd and Fleur Anderson (of Winton) bought him.

“The bidders reckoned he was the ideal flock ram. His progeny would have enough condition at 14 kilograms to be marketable to the works, but have the conformation to take them through to 21 kilograms if necessary.”

A lot of high growth rate sheep are too lean and not prime enough to go to the works at 14kg, Medlicott says. The commercial farmer needs lots of options because climactic factors like drought or a cold winter can cause delays in fattening lambs.

Medlicott has recently merged his own southdown stud, Tasvic Downs, into the Clifton Downs stud, which he took over from his father Bill in 2003.

“Tasvic Downs doesn’t exist now but in saying that Clifton Downs-279-14 was out of a Tasvic ewe.”

Clifton Downs Stud was started by the partnership of Medlicott’s grandfather Jack, and his father Bill. They were entering the Smithfield lamb competitions, but couldn’t find the terminal sires to produce lambs to do well, says Medlicott. So they started their own southdown stud which grew to become one of the leading flocks in New Zealand.

Friends visiting from Australia in the 1970s had bought a ewe at a dispersal sale at the renowned Punchbowl Stud outside Oamaru. The ewe cost $400, a considerable sum of money in those days. It was given to Medlicott, aged 15 at the time, as a thankyou for his family’s hospitality.

For a stud to be registered, 10 ewes were needed so Medlicott was given another ewe by southdown breeder John Macaulay, and his father gave him the other eight.

“Instead of studying for school cert I was busy looking up pedigrees,” he says.

“I kept building up the numbers and in 1992 got a first prize at the Christchurch A&P Show, and the second highest price for a ram at the sale that year. The ram (Tasvic-27-90) sold for $3400 and was exported to America.”

Since then Medlicott has twice topped $16,000 for a ram and reached about $14,000 “a few times.”

Southdowns rank well ahead of other breeds at the sales, Medlicott says.

“Southdown breeders are not frightened to stand up and spend money on a top ram. The Andersons have bought a lot of expensive rams off me. And one of the families who gave me my first ewe is buying semen off this ram. It will be going to the AI station next week. So the purchaser has made an investment for his flock but is also able to sell semen all around the world.”

He says there has been interest in the ram from South America, and the animals “easy-doing” type will be ideal for the native grasses its progeny will be expected to feed on. The ram has good muscle and good growth but has a “soft handle,” Medlicott says. By this he means the animal has a soft muscle, with an even cover, and a little bit of subcutaneous fat.

“The world has become “anti-fat,” and New Zealand sheep too lean. There still needs to be a degree of fat for an animal to function, he says.

“I feel there has been too much emphasis on growth and leanness in the past. I’m interested in a sheep that will grow as well as put down muscle, so a farmer in drought conditions or a cold winter like Southland’s been through, still has the ability to fight off the elements and have a product at the end of the day. You can get this through genetics, but it’s also important to use stockmanship. There needs to be balance.”

Medlicott has been cat-scanning his rams, and strategically mating the best with a fattier-type ewe. There have been trials done in Australia where a sheep with moderate growth, good handling, conformation and “easy doing” has been getting as good as or better growth rates in extreme conditions as really lean sheep.

“The other thing that is interesting about Clifton Downs-279-14 is that although he wasn’t the highest scanner, he had a very good hindquarter and a reasonable eye muscle area (EMA). I’ve EMA’d all my rams and finding that the highest cat scans are not quite as high as the EMA scans. My theory is that there might be more intramuscular fat in some of the higher muscled animals. I think we need intramuscular fat – we’ve seen it in the beef world – for the animal to survive and taste good. As ram breeders, I think we need to study what’s going on in the beef world and makes some informed decisions.”

Southdowns were very popular in the 1950s and 1960s but by the 1970s had become over-fat and lost ground. Medlicott says his grandfather was selling 180 rams a season in the 1960s. A decade later it had got so bad, one year he only sold seven rams.

“Breeding southdowns in the 1970s and 1980s, you wondered why you did it. I got rubbished by mates, but I could still see a future in them.”

As a stud breeder, Medlicott feels he must always be thinking ahead to where the market is to be profitable. And change needs to be fronted by the leading farmers and breeders.

“I’m always trying to go the next step – think where the industry is going and try and anticipate it.”

These days southdowns are a popular terminal choice. For good early maturity and “out the gate in a hurry” efficiency they take a lot of beating, Medlicott says. They have created a niche for themselves in Southland, Canterbury and Hawkes Bay.

“It comes down to their consumption of dry matter to output efficiency.”

Medlicott doesn’t use estimated breeding valuations (EBVs); I’m “outside the square,” he says.

“I am very interested in EBVs and have been told by my peers I should be on Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL), but I’m not. SIL is rewarding extreme growth and leanness and I think this is promoting the wrong animals.”

“For me it’s stockmanship plus record keeping and pedigree and understanding what is behind the animal.”

Medlicott thinks his ewes are the most important part of his flock. A lot of breeders get wrapped up in their rams, he says, but the maternal lines are essential. Ewes with “a whole lot of good breeding in the background” will keep on performing

His stud is only about 20 per cent of his income, but it is his passion.

Southdown sheep rule in meat breed ring

Posted by Christina On November - 21 - 2015


The-Canterbury A&P Show

Southdowns made nearly a clean sweep of the sheep meat breed titles at the Canterbury A  P Show.

Apart from a suffolk winning the Miss Canterbury ewe hogget competition, owned by Simon Howard, the southdowns had their own way.

Winner of the all-breeds super ewe meat breed championship was a southdown ewe and triplets bred by Woodbourne daughter and father team, Christina and Ian Jordan. The class is based on performance figures and judges interpretation of their structure.

The Jordans, who have run their stud since 1956, claimed the title with the ewe’s mid-August born triplet lambs carrying a collective carcass weight of more than 100 kilograms. They also won the supreme meat sheep of the show ribbon with the same ewe and triplets.

“This year was a better result for us than last year because we didn’t win the meat sheep then after winning it four years in a row before,” said Christina Jordan. “It’s been a very good result for us and we have had a good show.”

She said the stud’s long breeding programme could be credited for the success along with their efforts to breed structurally sound and well muscled sheep using estimated breeding values.

This was their sixth all-breed meat title. The Jordans also won the trifecta ribbon with three southdown ram hoggets.

Dave Gillespie and Phil Williams won the southdown champion ram title and the best carcass meat breed sheep of the show with a southdown ram they bought off the Jordans two years ago for $16,000 at the Christchurch ram sale. The ram was paired with the Jordans’ championship ewe to win the all-breeds pair title.

The all-breed supreme wool animal of the show title was won by father and son Allan and Simon Paterson, from Ranfurly, with a two year old poll merino ram.

This was the first time they had shown the ram with a 19.5 micron fleece last shorn a year ago and measuring about 150mm in length. The fleece will eventually be bound for the active wear market.

“He’s got pretty good wool on an excellent carcass and he’s a good conformation ram built like a crossbred sheep with merino wool on him. He will probably cut 12 kilograms of wool when we take him home.”

The ram was the great grandson of their previous winner of the title.

Paterson said the Armidale Merino Stud, established also in 1956, was a family operation on a farm that had been in the family since the 1880s on high country blocks with other blocks on rolling hill country.

“We are pretty passionate about the industry and we have been here for a long time.”

Among the other wool sheep winners was Parnham Hill Stud’s  James Hoban from Culverden who took the all-breeds super ewe wool breed title with an eight year-old corriedale ewe with triplets at foot.

In other events, the Mint Lamb Competition was won by Hawarden’s Andrew Sidey with a texel cross poll dorset lamb. Sidey is a regular exhibitor of corriedales at the show each year. The highest yield award was won by Paul Gardner – last year’s competition winner. The overall winner was decided on a culmination of yield, tender testing and taste.

Quad lambs a rarity in the southdown breed

Posted by Christina On September - 20 - 2015

In 65 years of farming southdown sheep, Wattie Gray had never seen one of his ewes give birth to a set of quaduplets.

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That was until last week, when  he and daughter Janet Gray came across the brood on the family’s Manawatu farm in Rongotea.

“The southdown ewe is only a two-tooth [2-year-old] and these are her first lambs. She was heavily pregnant and I thought perhaps big twins, but I came out and there were four lambs,” said Janet Gray.

Janet Gray cradles the quads

Janet Gray cradles the quads

“The ewe that had the four live lambs did really well. Two lambs were slightly bigger, but they were a pretty even size.  All were born alive, stood up and were in good condition.”

She and her father said they had seen triplets before, but the quads were a new thing.

Some breeds of sheep produced quads and even quintuplets, but four was a rarity among the southdown breed, she said.

All the lambs had survived and were sprightly  at more than a week old, but Janet Gray said she had mothered two of the four lambs on to two ewes whose own offspring had died.

“It takes pressure off the ewe that had all four – now she only has twins to worry about, and they are the smaller lambs.”

The ewe had three ram lambs and one ewe lamb, which had all been given  small, fleecy covers  to help keep them warm.

“The covers are made out of wool. They are not water-proof, but they keep the lambs warm against the cool wind. The southdown lambs are born with little wool on them. So the covers give them a helping hand.”

She said most lambs born at the stud farm were given such covers.