Southern Southland stud farmer Hayden Peter has introduced a new breed this season with the purchase of a pure beltex ram lamb and a half beltex half suffolk ram lamb back in March, which have been used for mating this season alongside another beltex ram lamb and two beltex senior sires through AI.
Beltex is the first new breed to land in New Zealand in nearly a decade, and has been brought into the country last year by Jock Allison, John Tavendale, and Blair Gallagher from Beltex New Zealand.
Hayden’s new beltex ram lambs were born in New Zealand in August last year.
He says the beltex is a Texel originating from Belgium and boasts a higher dressing out percent and a higher meat yield than any other breed. “They are really muscular,” he says.
“I don’t know what the pure beltex will have to offer the New Zealand industry. The main thing is lambing ease will potentially be a problem, but also their growth rates, they are only small animals. But the yield is where they come into their own compared to other breeds in New Zealand. Hopefully that outweighs the poor growth rates.”
Hayden hopes to take the beltex to the next level with embryo transfer. He has flushed his 14 best
suftex ewes, getting 12 embryos from the best of the flock and 69 all up, and implanting two into each recipient ewe.
“It’s an expensive process but I think there’s an opportunity to get a few lambs on the ground,” he says. “If it’s a success, I’ll have quite a few to offer for sale this summer.
Potentially I could have up to 300 beltex cross lambs on the ground.” As half breds he is hoping his concerns about lambing ease will be unfounded, and is interested to see how his concerns about growth rates play out.
“I don’t see much potential for pure beltex, but that meat yield and dressing out percent is what people are trying for. There is also a meat quality aspect here, and potential for IMF that is yet to be verified. It will be interesting to see if there’s a higher IMF, and we could be a premium paid for that in future.”
The beltex is somewhat of an experiment for Hayden, who managed the Greeline stud at The Gree, a 268ha flat to slightly rolling property just north of Winton in Southland before buying it from Kerry Dunlop in 2012.
Kerry started flock recording in 1964 and went on to develop the Greeline composite comprised of ¼ east friesian, 3/8 texel, and 3/8 coopworth.
Hayden has just sent his first Greeline ram to the UK to breeder Robyn Hulme who is looking to develop a maternal breed there and took back eight or ten rams from New Zealand.
“I’m quite fascinated to see how my genetics play out in the UK, how they cope in that environment.”
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