It is hoped the trial being conducted at Smedley Station in the Hawkes Bay will further enhance the genetics gains that have been made in the perendale breed over the years, says vice president of the Perendale Society, Warren Ayers.
Improvements have been made in the breed on traits such as yield, growth and facial eczema, and the trial will identify the best performing sires to continue to target the very best genetics in the breed.
Three matings have taken place at Smedley Station and the trial will be on-going, says Warren.
“Perendales are right up there for growth and meat yield. In my own stud my SIL genetic trend graph shows that my perendales are above average for everything,” he says.
Based in Mimihau, south of Gore, Warren’s 888ha farm runs 5500 ewes in total, including 450 recorded stud perendale ewes, 1500 ewe hoggets, 150 ram hoggets and 150 angus cows.
Cow numbers have been increased slightly in recent years to shift the workload on the farm a bit as the cows require less input than the sheep, says Warren. The top 50-60% are sold privately at weaning and the remainder grown to a finished stage.
He says the cows are also useful to control gullies and paddocks that can’t easily be cultivated. Perendales though are the main focus of the operation.
Warren favours the perendale breed as he says it is a hardy, easy care sheep with good survivability and mother skills – all traits, which make them ideally suited to his farm.
Each year Kamahi Stud has three to four two tooth rams for sale at the South Island Perendale Ram Fair in January.
After that around 100-120 rams will be sold privately on farm. The stud was established in 1972 and Warren has sought to introduce the best bloodlines into the stud.
This has not been an inexpensive exercise and has been possible by at times partnering with Kylemore Stud owners the McKelvie family of Wyndham to buy rams together if a ram fits both their needs. For example two years ago they purchased a promising ram from Gowan Braes Perendales.
Warren also invests in genetics by himself as well that fit in with his goals of growth, meat yield and sustainability.
He says one of the biggest challenges facing his business has been the on-going low wool prices but he senses the tide might be starting to turn. “The backlash against plastic we are experiencing will hopefully be beneficial for natural fibres,” he says.
Improving the general profitability of the farm has seen Warren graze dairy cows on the property over winter. He has three clients and this winter grazed 650 cows giving winter cash flow.
Warren re-grasses 40ha of the farm each year as part of his winter cropping programme where he grows swedes, kale and fodder beet. The farm also has areas of QEII Covenant land and Warren is working on fencing off more such blocks.
They are patches of bush and removing them from the farm makes management easier, he says creating a win for his business and the environment.
Warren’s partner Di works on the farm part time and they have a two year old daughter called Amelie.
Warren’s children from a previous relationship – Tom, 14 and Tessa, 12, also help out on the farm. Tessa has a flock of perendale sheep she is particularly proud of.
“It’s my hope one of the kids may want to farm one day but I’m certainly not going to force them into it,” says Warren who is the fourth generation to farm the property.
“The aim is to continue to farm sustainably for future generations.”
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