Friday, 18 September 2020 09:50

Self-shedding sheep study

Written by  Staff Reporters
A Massey University study is looking at the production consequences of crossbreeding with Wiltshire sheep to a fully shedding flock. A Massey University study is looking at the production consequences of crossbreeding with Wiltshire sheep to a fully shedding flock.

Massey University is examining the economic impact and the production consequences of crossbreeding with Wiltshire sheep to a fully shedding flock.

Coarse wool sheep farmers are struggling with the cost of shearing in relation to the value of the wool clip. Many are considering if changing to a self-shedding flock, such as a Wiltshire, is a better way forward.

However, the cost of purchasing purebred Wiltshires – and the limited numbers available – means this is not a viable option for many.  However, there are examples of farmers successfully grading up to Wiltshires by continual crossing. But there is a general lack of accurate recorded information on the costs, benefit and pitfalls from doing so.

Massey University’s sheep team, led by Professor Steve Morris, has begun a long-term study to address this lack of information.  The project has two aspects: Firstly, to model the profitability over time of such a change; Secondly to undertake a multi-year study recording animal production and performance, as a flock is graded up from Romney to Wiltshire.

The long-term, multi-year study will also help identify and quantify any issues as they arise. It will also identify which crossbred ewe lambs are the best to select from a shedding perspective and provide further information to improve the economic model.

Having an interested farmer group will also be an integral aspect of this project.

The project, which started in March 2020, with 400 Romney ewes bred to Wiltshire rams and a comparable group of ewes bred to Romney rams. The project is being undertaken at Massey University’s Riverside farm, 10km north of Masterton.

Lambing was due to start on 17 August and all lambs will have birth, weaning weights and growth rates to weaning recorded. The Wiltshire cross lambs will be given a shedding score on a scale 1 (no shedding) to 5 (fully shed) – after weaning in January and February 2021.

Ewe lambs from this first crop will be bred to Wiltshire rams in April 2021 to generate three quarter (F2) Wiltshire lambs in August 2021. Then the study continues with 7/8s or F3 Wiltshire lambs born in 2022 and 15/16s (F4) born in 2023. 

At each lambing, the lambs and their performance will be compared to the base Romney flock at Riverside farm.  Other traits to be investigated throughout the grading-up process will include potential health issues such as internal parasite status, feet, teeth, FE.

Animal behaviour measurements will also be done as some farmers have commented that the Wiltshire is a different animal to manage.

The shedding score will be an important underpinning variable to identify which crossbreeds are best to select to ensure quick progress through to a fully shedding flock.  Shearing requirements of the various crossbreds will also be recorded.

Massey is planning to hold an open field day in early 2021.

Meanwhile, the project team are interested to hear from any farmers who currently have Wiltshire sheep on their farms.

• Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More like this

An ode to the ‘beloved’ sheep yards

When 14-year-old Lincoln High School student Rosa Macaulay was asked to write story about her favourite room, instead of choosing her bedroom like most 14-year-old girls, she chose her grandfather’s sheep yards. 

Featured

 

National

Alliance pays back wage subsidy

After being dogged by claims about its entitlement to the wage subsidy, the country’s largest meat processor will now fully…

Gone Fishing

Late last year, Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie announced he’d resigned to take on a new job heading up Sanfords…

Machinery & Products

Good growth year for Claas

While many sectors of the agricultural machinery were hit by the ravages of Covid-19, the effects of the pandemic did…

Green machine frugal on fuel

According to the industry respected independent DLG PowerMix test, John Deere appears to be the best choice of tractor for…

App takes pressure off

TRS Tyre & Wheel, owned by Trelleborg Wheel Systems, has introduced the TLC Plus App to the New Zealand market.

New MF 5S series arrives

Just before Christmas, Massey Ferguson quietly released details of the successor to its popular MF 5700S range in the shape…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Seriously?

Your old mate reckons the nomination of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) management team as a finalists in…

Good riddance!

The Hound reckons 2021 is off to a rollicking start with news that professional whinger and anti-farming drone Martin Taylor…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter