Technical information and advantages of Merrydowns rams
Merrydowns - Technical Information for 2016
With the ever increasing number of sheep breeds available in the current market we think it is important that the commercial farmer has the option to be able to purchase DNA tested pure bred Romney and Southdown rams – an option which Merrydowns provides. We continue to focus on the quality of our wool clip and the amount of meat on our sheep.
We are using EBV’s again this year as we feel they are more commercially relevant. Our Romney and Southdown Studs continue to be SIL recorded; these are used as a culling tool only. Our SIL figures are real figures for this farm, this environment, and our management as our figures are not cross flocked and we are not on SIL ACE (we refuse to use inferior rams just because they have a high index). Our linkages with other breeders are minimal, ensuring we remain independent and a source of out cross for the New Zealand sheep industry. This decision severely impacts on our indexes and EBV’s; however we stand by this decision as it does not affect the performance of our sheep in a true commercial environment. While we do not have the high indexes it also means we do not have the large amount of rubbish at the other end. We are not solely focussed on high index sheep we are more interested in the commercial traits of; lambing percent to the ram, ensuring that the ewes have the capacity to hold and rear their lambs, top quality wool and weights, longevity, structural soundness, constitution, growth rate, early maturity, actual fertility and quality first.
For the last three years we have weighed all the stud ewes’ pre mating, this year the 2 tooth ewes averaged 62kg’s and the mixed age ewes were 78kg’s. This year the Romney Stud and Commercial ewes scanned 190% and lambed just over 160%. The Southdown ewes lambed at just over 140% (to the ram). The Romney stud lambs were shorn on the 18 February 2016; ram hoggets were shorn again on the 7 August 2016 and ewe hoggets were shorn on the 27 September; they had a micron of 34.1 and a colour of 0.1. We eye muscle scanned 126 Southdown ram hoggets on the 25 March 2016 (the average birth date was 20 September 2015); the average live weight was 65.4 kg’s, they averaged 21.1 EMA with a top EMA scan of 26.4. 234 Romney ram hoggets were scanned on the 5 April 2016 (the average birth date was 10 October 2015) they averaged an EMA of 16.7 with a top EMA scan of 22.4 and had an average live weight of 53.2kgs.
Much to our dismay we are unable to have any Worm Star information due to Zoetis not continuing with this testing as they believe it is old technology. We found this data was invaluable and tried without success to get them to reconsider.
This year Jack has his first crop of rams in the sale, under the original family prefix Merryvale which was founded in 1920.
Below are the flock average EBV’s for the current sale rams:
• Merrydowns doesn’t have a high powered marketing budget because true commercial sheep shouldn’t need one.
• Merrydowns are medium framed easy doing sheep.
• Merrydowns have medium strong high quality wool which is free from black fibre.
• Merrydowns DNA tested pure bred sheep.
• Merrydowns have high fertility.
• Merrydowns is a large scale stud operation focussed on breeding commercial sheep that will thrive in all environments.
• Merrydowns ruthlessly culls for the basic fundamental commercial traits ensuring our clients ewe flocks are structurally sound.
• Merrydowns has always put huge emphasis on udder attachment and teat placement resulting in high survival rates from scanning to lambing.
• Merrydowns has been eye muscle scanning since 1995.
• Merrydowns has the type of ram to rectify the structural, constitution and wool quality faults that the New Zealand sheep industry has acquired in the last 10 years, without losing hybrid vigour.
Merrydowns - General Overview
Our Romney's and Southdown's are genetically stamped with fertility, growth rate, meat and wool and are not living on hybrid vigour.
All stock on the property are put under commercial pressure to ensure they can shift to all environments. There are 5,000 stock units run on 397 south facing, steep to rolling hectares.
Our Romney ewes are culled ruthlessly for their actual lambing strings - two singles and they go to the Southdown rams for the production of early lambs. Over the last 5 years the average lambing percent has been between 146-160% (ewes mated) across the farm and environmental conditions.
Romney ewes shear on average 7-7.5 kg of wool and with an average body weight of 59-78 kg's.
All studs are EID tagged for ease and accuracy of recording.
We are breeding medium framed sheep with spring of rib and depth, bone, constitution and longevity. We place great emphasis on muscular hind quarters and an above industry average eye muscle area (loin). One of our goals is for our commercial clients to be able to breed top quality ewe replacements that are fertile, open faced, stacked full of meat and wool with longevity. In the current economic climate it is important not to underestimate the cost of ewe replacements.
We have an annual on farm auction which is held in early December. There are approximately 220 pure bred Romney and Southdown 2 tooth rams available for sale; these are selected from the top 25% of lambs born on type and performance (SIL) data. In March/April there are approximately 100 Southdown ram lambs suitable for hogget's and ewes available for sale.
Our rams are going into and thrive in all different environments - from Warkworth in the North Island to Bluff in Southland. The Romney rams are ideal for breeding Half Breds for the Merino industry due to their medium high quality wool, which is free from black fibre.
We have the largest Southdown flock in New Zealand with a base of 560 ewes; there will be 200 replacements going into the flock each year. With the Southdown's we focus on quality, fertility meat, growth rate, skin thickness and early mean kill date.
Our Romney and Southdown Studs continue to be SIL recorded; these are used as a culling tool only. Our SIL figures are real figures for this farm, this environment, and our management as our figures are not cross flocked and we are not on SIL ACE. This means our linkages with other breeders are minimal, ensuring we remain independent and a source of out cross for the New Zealand sheep industry.