Purchasing the Hazeldale Perendale Stud in 2002 was one of the best things Kerry and Richard France say they have ever done.
After previously favouring Romney they took over the Perendale stud with 380 stud ewes, 300 ewe hoggets and 300 ram hoggets and have never looked back.
The couple had just moved from mid Canterbury to their 568ha Longview farm at Moa Flat in the heart of West Otago hill country between Tapanui and Ettrick and the Romneys were struggling with the 120ha of gullies on the farm. The Perendales though had no trouble eating grass wherever they could.
Combined with tremendous mothering ability, survivability and exceptional intelligence they quickly became the favoured breed with the Frances.
Kerry says that although some people are scared off by the obvious intelligence of Perendales it is something she has learned to work well with. “You just have to out-think them,” she says.
“Let them use their brains. For example when we get to a gateway with a mob we stand off them and don’t use the dogs. They know there is a gate and they have to go through it.”
The Frances run a diverse farming operation which also includes a commercial sheep and beef finishing farm and a 95ha deer unit and Kerry has seen a likeness between Perendales and deer. “The lambs hide in the grass just like deer, you just see their little ears poking out,” she says.
The Frances focus on meat and typically yield in the high 90% for the target range for Anzco on contract to the Waitrose supermarket chain in the United Kingdom.
They are also focusing more on good wormFEC index genetics and test the faeces of their ram hoggets to identify the ones with this trait combined with good meat.
It’s rare to find a sire with both but they have identified several. Survivability is another key trait and Perendales have a natural tendency towards this anyway.
Participating in an AgResearch trial showed them that the weight of the lambs at birth was the most important factor in survivability in that first week.
They weigh all stud lambs born and use this data to select the best lamb hoggets or sires to put over the flock.
Kerry, who is largely responsible for this with the help of son Jackson, says it is a lot of work and careful management but worth it.
They don’t shepherd their commercial ewes and haven’t drenched an adult stud or commercial flock sheep since 2003-04.
Careful supplementation with the right minerrals is a key focus for the couple who won the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award in recognition of their crop, pasture and soil management and the Alliance Quality Livestock Award for their livestock management and stud breeding expertise at the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
The animals get the right minerals by correct fertilizer use and soil testing combined with direct supplementation.
They grow 7.5ha of lucerne and make 330 bales. They grow swedes, short rotation grasses, plantain and more recently fodder beet.
The Frances run around 220 Friesian/Hereford cross cattle buying in calves at 80-100 kilograms and taking them through on fodder beet two winters.
They have just over 500 Red deer. As if this wasn’t diverse enough they also have a 115ha forestry block at Geraldine due for maturity in around five years.
They are not sure if they will sell off a block of land at this point but it does give them leverage going forward as they are thinking of buying another farm as all their sons – Jackson, 22, Morgan, 26 and Justin 25 are all keen on farming. “We don’t quite know what our next step will be,” says Richard.
“Land is expensive but it’s just about waiting for the right opportunity and we don’t know where or when that might be but we’re in no hurry.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Hazeldale Perendale
- Taieri Wool & Skin (1998)
- Timber Creek Contracting Ltd