Romdale rams a first for Newhaven
Newhaven Perendales is set to release its ﬁrst ever batch of Romdale rams to the market later this year.
Breeders Jane and Blair Smith, who run a 1495ha farm at Five Forks in the Kakanui Range, say that the new cross breed is due to a request from the market to produce Newhaven Perendales.
“We don’t want to be entering into crosses to meet a short term market need but for some time we have been approached by a number of Romdale ﬂocks around the country to ask if we would produce a Romdale ram for them – with our large scale, high altitude, nil-drench regime being a major attraction to them. Just like our Perendale clients they want tough, low-input genetics that can perform in harsh conditions,” says Blair.
Their stud Newhaven Perendales was started in 1972 by Jane’s parents David and Robyn Ruddenklau, who wanted to breed a ewe that could perform no matter what type of country it was in.
They have a base ﬂock of around 2000 stud Perendale ewes run under genuine commercial conditions on their hill country block at altitude.
While three quarters of the rams they produce will be pure Perendale, the balance will be Romdale and Perendale-Texel sires– another fairly recent venture for the couple.
Since starting to produce a Perendale-Texel cross around six years ago Blair says demand is increasing, as it also is with the Perendale sires. As the couple has a real focus on quality Jane says they will be offering 40-50 high index Newhaven Perendales this December.
“We wouldn’t put anything up for sale that we couldn’t back in terms of quality and performance. The selection of stud Romney sires that we are utilising have to meet our criteria on every trait such as low input animal health resilience, good conformation including robust feet and high wool quality. These are all crucial as we need to maintain the high quality that we already uphold in our Perendales. People may laugh when we say we are still focusing on breeding quality wool but I truly believe that wool will make a comeback as there is an increasingly backlash against synthetic ﬁbres so we have never taken our eye off the ball in terms of producing quality wool,” she says.
As breeders it is predicting future trends that is a key factor to success. For example it was 25 years ago that Newhaven commenced a nil drench regime.
With drench resistance now a major factor for many New Zealand farmers the fact that Ne whaven genetics have a high resilience to internal parasite challenge has meant that many Newhaven clients have been able to implement a low-input or nil drench regime in their own ﬂocks avoiding the heartache of developing drench resistance and yet breeding high performing sheep at the same time. The couple believe it is essential to breed for efﬁciency.
“Sheep farmers are getting more savvy about monitoring and measuring the performance of their ﬂock. There can be no passengers on a farm, every sheep has to perform and pull its weight,” says Blair.
Other traits they focus on are fertility, meat yield, good structure, and further resilience through two decades of DNA testing for both cold tolerance and foot score in order to produce sheep with a high degree of resilience against foot rot.
All their stud sheep are fully SIL recorded, including the Newhaven Romdale and Newhaven Perendales-Texel, as the couple are big on monitoring and making the best use of available data and technology.
“Information is power. We want to make sure we are producing the best of the best – the All Blacks line up of what is born. We have a high culling rate to keep quality high and only select the top 25- 30% of rams born each year for sale,” says Jane.
Their rams are all run together over winter in one large ﬂock at 600 metres above sea level so it’s a real case of survival of the ﬁttest.
Blair says that Perendales are becoming increasingly popular due to their efﬁciency with the target at Newhaven for every ewe to wean her own weight in lambs each year.
Survivability and high pre and post weaning weight gains are all characteristics that Newhaven Perendales package into every ram they sell around the country.
They supply rams from their stud from the deep south to the North Island and also to Australia and the Smiths say they are excited to be releasing their ﬁrst Newhaven Romdales to the market: “We need to make sure as sheep breeders that we are up to date with what the market wants – both farmers and consumers.
As a large-scale stud it is our responsibility to ensure that we are always two steps ahead.
“This is what leads to greater proﬁtability for each of our clients in the lambs that they produce every single year, no matter what the climate throws at them.”
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