Society sees shift back to Corriedales

Society sees shift back to Corriedales
A 23.5 micron Corriedale hogget fleece.

The Corriedale Society is starting to see a shift towards the Corriedale breed in New Zealand following trends across the Tasman, says Corriedale Society president James Hoban.
“People are returning to the breed, trying the breed for the first time or using it for crossbreeding. This year we saw rams and ewes go to the North Island and Southland,” he says.
The move is significant as the breed has historically mainly been seen in the South Island and has suffered as breeders chase lambing percentages.
But people are seeing the benefits of Corriedale for fining up their wool to gain a premium, says Hoban.
The breed produces a mid micron wool slightly stronger than most halfbreds but finer than a cross-bred flock, he says.
Typically Corriedale ewe flocks produce 26-29 micron wool.
Corriedales were developed by Scottish settler to New Zealand James Little and the new breed was officially recognised as Corriedale in 1911.
James says that Corriedale is a true dual purpose breed giving a good balance of meat and wool production.
As the breed was originally developed in New Zealand for New Zealand conditions this has resulted in a hardy drought tolerant breed, he says.
While not a large breeding group, Corriedale breeders have worked hard to improve traits over the years in both stud and commercial stock using technology such as gene testing, CT and eye muscle area ultrasound scanning, says James.
He thinks this is the biggest hindrance today to people giving the breed a go – outdated perceptions.
“Recently the Corriedale Society got a group of farmers together to get feedback on the breed. Their biggest concern was that they are bad mothers but that is a legacy issue and it’s not the case today due to the work breeders have done over the years.”
Other initiatives the society is involved with include annual ewe and lamb hogget competitions in Canterbury, which James says is a good way to compare sheep from different flocks run under the same conditions.
The society also has an active performance recording group, which links in with a group of Australian breeders.
In order to encourage the next generation a group of Corriedale breeders, led by Tom Burrows from Eudunda Corriedales, donated stud ewes to Waimate High School so the students could start a stud flock.
The society also runs a young ambassadors exchange programme which sees a young person travel to Australia every two years to view Corriedale farms.
James says that there are three ways farmers can use Corriedales – running a straight Corriedale flock, crossing with finer woolled sheep to enhance growth and bone traits or using over crossbred sheep to fine up wool without sacrificing meat production and fertility.
James says Corriedales give a shot of hybrid vigour if used as a crossbreeding option.
The wool prices he achieved on his own farm this year bear testament to the breed: the strongest micron wool was 29.9 and fetched $6.77 per kilo-gram greasy.
The medium line of 28.7 microns sold for $7.21 and the fine line at 26.8 microns $8.55.
These prices were achieved early in the season and prices have improved further since then, he says.
So it’s no surprise farmers are starting to sit up and take notice of the breed: “We feel like we are at the start of the tide turning. It’s very exciting to see people moving in the Corriedale direction again.”
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