Waidalerams Newsletter 2017.
Howdy all, once again winter has essentially come and gone and I for one am not sorry to see the back of it. It has been bloody awful in our part of the world, as far back as mating in April, just so horrendously wet and apart from about 3 weeks or so, been the same ever since. Most certainly hasn’t been an enjoyable winter; hoggets, ewes and I are absolutely sick of it.
Anyway it’s Waidalerams annual newsletter time! It is difficult to write that and make it sound exciting. I intend to offer up the best Romney, Southdown, South Suffolk and Lincoln rams in the WORLD (some would say that I maybe exaggerating somewhat here) but if you come to my Ninth Annual on farm sale Wednesday 3pm 29 November 2017 you can decide for yourself!
I expect to put up around 90 or so Romneys, close to 50 South Suffolks, 40-45 Southdowns and 5 Lincolns. The Romneys are looking very good, shore them beginning of this month, weighed their wool but probably was a bit pointless as so much mud on them, I had to use one hand piece to take off socks belly etc. and one to shear main body, bloody awful job it was. Something like 2/3 of those I put up will be by Rawahi 984-12 (who has bred very well) and an fantastic son of his Waidale 583-14 (his first offering of progeny). Both pictured below. Both rams are deep grunty thick set sheep with good wool and good SIL figures. 465 below is another son of the Rawahi I used that will have sons in the sale.
Piggies and Blackies will be shorn beginning of September, not by me as my stock excuse now is that lambing will have started and I am too busy to do them, I am sticking to this as they are very muddy. Once we get the wool off and get them on to some adlib grass, as opposed to a break, they will bolt because both lines are very good terminal rams. This year a bit over half of the blackies will be again by Pakiti 56-11, pictured above, he leaves great terminal sires, not massive, but thick meaty grunty rams (what I am trying to breed), the balance will be half southdown, and they are also grunty rams. The piggies (that is the Southdowns) are by two rams, one I bought for $8000 and one I bought for $2000, a photo of $8000 one above, but don’t have a decent photo of the other as forgot to take one as a 2th.
Note I have just recently revamped my website waidalerams.co.nz, which now can also be easily seen on your mobile phone as well. Please do take a look it, as redoing it means I have to regain my rankings on google so that when someone searches for rams, romneys etc. my website comes straight up on first page, so you would be doing me favour if you take a look. There is a lot of information on it, including pictures and videos of all the sires that I am offering rams of this year.
I like to think what I write in this will give you the odd laugh, but this year it might be a bit more serious, as I have a few topics to address in relation to my breeding operation. I do hope you find it interesting, if not, stop reading NOW and just make sure you come to my sale.
Season: Last summer not bad at home; probably ended up averaging around $100 for all lambs that left the place. Sold my cull romney ewe lambs for $120 a head, a good buy, as they are good lambs, so if interested in my cull ewe lambs this year, give me a call early!
As I said above, from April onwards, it’s been just wet. It’s the second time in a few years that it’s been really wet at mating, which I know now, ultimately does have a significant effect on scanning percentage. It’s cold and miserable and the ewes and rams are just not as active at seeking out each other as when there is loads of grass and weather is nice, more come back in the second round. The last very wet mating before this year, I came in from going around the ewes at mating time (single mob mating need to check ram is okay every day and mob up ewes so not chatting to ram in paddock next door) and said to two young German woman (Woofas who were working and staying at my place) “I hope the rams aren’t like me”, they said what do you mean, to which I replied “it wouldn’t matter how fantastic, keen and/or attractive the woman would be I simply wouldn’t be interested in this weather either” Accordingly our scanning was just average this year, I would hope the Romneys will still wean between 150 to 160%
My living arrangements: I am still living one week in Christchurch and one week at the farm so I can share care of my daughter Scarlett. She has now obtained her diploma in make-up artistry course: so she is now very capable of making most of us look like mutton dressed up as lamb. We are trying to get her a permanent fulltime job in retail, makeup etc., (she has part time jobs) but it’s not easy when your young to get that first break and so many businesses seem to employ many part timers as opposed to full timers. I know she’s a good worker, it’s just getting that first decent fulltime job where she can earn and save money for some aspirations: car, travel etc.
Ian Baker is still working for me. I still run the whole operation but Ian is obviously responsible for carrying out the day to day jobs that need to be done, when I am not there. My contact details are still the same hm phone: 036148388 and cell 0274427746. Where I live in Christchurch, 8 Everest Street, Burnside is only about 5 minutes’ drive from the airport, so if you need a bunk for the night, don’t hesitate to ask.
My Ninth on Farm Sale will be at 3pm on Wednesday 29 November 2017
Again a helmsman sale run in conjunction with AGonline. Videos of all rams and performance data will be loaded on the internet www.agonline.co.nz around 3 weeks before the sale. For those who come to the sale, you can sort through them all to reduce them to a smaller number that might interest you on the day and for those who can’t make the sale, you can still sort out, select and buy good rams without attending the sale: we are selling more every year, close to 30 rams via Agonline last year. You can bid from the time everything is uploaded on www.agonline.co.nz leave auto bids etc. if you want, with the auction finishing on the day of the sale. You can actually bid in real time against those bidding on the day of the sale (because it’s a helmsman sale not your traditional auction).
If you have been to my sale my sale before you can skip this next bit:
- A helmsman sale is one where by you can bid on all rams up until the close of sale, it then works like trademe, you have 2 minutes to place a bid, if no bid in that time, then the highest bidder succeeds in purchasing the ram. The helmsman sale is why I can run it in conjunction with agonline. I believe (and I think practically everyone who has bought at such a sale) prefers it over the traditional auction as; one it enables you to manage your budget better and two; buy a more even line of rams. If a ram exceeds your budget, you can still bid on the rest. The key is if you want say 5 rams, you need to select say 10 or 12 rams you like and rank them, so if a ram exceeds your budget you simply move on to your next choice; and
- You can select good rams without attending the sale by viewing the 20 second video of the ram at www.agonline.co.nz and the data pertaining to that ram. You may have to repeat the video a few times to check everything, but you can see pasterns, shoulders, hindquarter, colour, how it walks etc. It’s a bit harder with Romneys, but again I do ensure we open the wool on each ram at the beginning of the video so you are not taking a total pot shot on wool either. I give you a live weight at the time of cataloguing to give you a guide to assess size; Note we also have a TV in the corner of wool shed on the day, so you can look at the videos of all the rams offered if you want to see how they move and walk etc. and
- To know more about how the helmsman sale works in conjunction with Agonline, you are more than welcome to call me or take a look at my website: www.waidalerams.co.nz. Please note that if you haven’t seen my sheep before and you can’t make it on sale day, then you are more than welcome to come and have a look at my ram hoggets prior to the sale at your convenience and if they are of the type etc that you want, then I guarantee that you will be able to confidently select the rams you like based solely on the videos and performance data loaded on the internet.
Rural Delivery Television Programme:
This was 6 minute segment they filmed a coupler years ago that explains a bit about me, the farm and in particular how our sale works. You can view this by simply going to my website: it’s there on the front page. Been edited as they see fit, as the last question they asked me which isn’t in it, is why don’t others do this, I said quite bluntly it’s a lot of bloody work!
Visiting Clients: I try to see as many as I can, seen a few already and hopefully a lot more in coming months. Good to see where my rams are going, how they are going, it’s this feedback that keeps you in the real world and keeps you focused on breeding the right sheep.
Dags on my Ewes: Last year I found out that a coupler farmers didn’t come and buy rams off me because they felt it wasn’t a good look in October/November to see my ewes with loads of dags. I find this quite frustrating because I am an honest, upfront person who doesn’t try to hide anything. The reason my ewes have dags on them that time of the year is because they don’t get drenched and haven’t been drenched now for over 10 years. I don’t drench them because of the genetic side of it, I think this is a good thing for my clients because over time I am only retaining the ewes that can raise good lambs and handle not being drenched, those that don’t handle it are culled. The first year they weren’t drenched, I culled a lot at weaning, but now is just back to normal. Accordingly my genetic gain in this regard is passed on to my clients via the rams I sell. I could of course dag them so that every time someone drives pass they look the part, but I am not into wasting my time and money for some aesthetic appeal: when I can dag them once straight after weaning, for shearing 10 days later.
I personally would be somewhat sceptical of buying rams from some breeder who is still drenching his ewes (and I know there are a lot who still do). Moreover it’s a lot tougher not drenching your ewes on an intensive farm such as mine, where the ewes, for around 8 months of the year live bum to face, i.e. stacked on behind a wire as opposed to not drenching your ewes on a big hill country property spread at buggerall to the acre.
How many ewes I have: This was a question asked of me a coupler times last year, “you only have 500 plus Romney ewes. I have been getting rams off a guy who has 3000”. All I can say to this is just because you have a lot of animals doesn’t mean they are any bloody good. I have 500 to 550 very good Romney ewes (it’s a range as I only keep what I consider good enough so it does fluctuate a bit).
My ewes have been consistently selected on phenotype for many, many years, which is why I jokingly say that I could put a rabbit over most of them and still get a decent lamb out of them. What I mean by this is they are good ewes that breed true. On top of this every ewe’s production and figures are heavily scrutinised individually at mating time, so that those with poor figures and/or have two singles in a row are culled and put to a terminal sire. Again this is a good thing for my clients as you are buying rams that pass on the genetics you see when you buy them.
Last year I went to the North Island to buy one outside stud ram (I normally try to buy one outside ram a year) and I can tell you that I was absolutely stunned as to how awful the rams were that some breeders were selling. These same studs varied from having a few more ewes than me to 10 times the number of ewes that I had. So all I can say the old adage holds true, give me quality over quantity every time! The ram to the right is what I bought last year, he has a big background of facial eczema tolerance, which is highly heritable. I have been looking for a good ram with such tolerance for a few years now, but it’s not easy to get both, so fingers crossed he breeds well.
North Island Romneys: I hear a number of farmers say I get North Island Romneys as if this means they are a buying a different Romney to what I sell. 20 years ago that would be the case, but most certainly not now. Almost all my outside rams have come from the North Island in the last 15 years and on top of that my type of Romney is a medium sized Romney, grunty, deep and thick, generally features that have a strong correlation with Constitution. I don’t have little buggers nor do I have big buggers, I have middle of the road sized sheep. I reiterate that probably 2/3 of my romneys for sale this year are by 984 and 583 pictured above, who exemplify the type of Romney I am breeding. It’s all about balance without going too far one way or the other.
In recent times, from my own observations I believe there a lot of North Island Romneys that have lost their way and getting too big again, probably as a consequence of solely focusing on figures. If for example you chase growth rates without maintaining a type of sheep (i.e. be a stockmen), high growth sheep will tend to be big sheep. I won’t name any studs as examples of this but if you want to ring to discuss it further please feel free to do so. You can have both i.e. medium sized sheep with good growth rates, but it requires both stockmanship and figures to achieve this.
One thing that might be a different at home is that I do ensure that my ram hoggets are grown out well for selling, not excessively, just on grass and crop, but well grown. I think this is a good thing because clients can come and buy their rams knowing that what they see is what they get as they are essentially fully grown. You don’t have to guess what the ram might look like in 6 months’ time.
Moreover as to constitution and shifting on to all types of country: there is a perception that this so called North Island Romney will do this better than mine. All I can say I have not replaced one ram for this since we started having an on farm sale, and I sell them all over the place. I may have been lucky perhaps, but more likely I think it’s because clients are getting their rams early, getting the wool off them in December and the rams have four to five months to acclimatise to the property and feeding they are now on before mating. As opposed to the old days when some guys would buy a ram and then basically put him straight out on the hill with ewes (with 8 months of wool still on the ram) and then wonder why he is struggling.
I would add that a ram at mating time should lose a bit of weight, otherwise he is probably not working too hard. The key is when you pull him out and give him plenty to eat he should bounce back pretty quickly.
SIL Figures: This year I weighed all my adult ewes, not a big fan of this, but had to do it so that a full set of Sil figures will show up on the SIL website and I promised a mate of mine that I would when he bought a ram off me. I still think that my eye is much better as by the time you get accurate data on adult weight, which is obviously once you have 2ths or older of a sire, I am often not using the ram any more so my assessment of him how he will breed in this regard and his lambs as to adult size is more valuable.
Not many rams at Waidale get used more than 2 years, they have to be bloody good breeders: 984 and 583 above are two such rams. Moreover as most of you will know without a body score it’s not much value as there is a big difference between a 55kg skinny and 55kg fat ewe, but at present with SIL no difference.
There are good Sil figures to take note of but there are a lot of things need to be wary of and I most certainly would never buy a ram on figures alone as often my best figured ram is one of the first lambs I cull as he is simply not good enough structurally to sell. I could write pages on this, but if you genuinely want my view on it, give me a ring, I am more than happy to discuss it all.
Eye muscle scanning: All an eye muscle measurement does is provide with you an indication of the depth and width of loin and hence area, but even this area makes no allowance for the length of the Ram’s loin. In recent times loins have shortened up primarily because of over reliance on eye muscle are figures. Good breeding is about balance, you want a good loin but not to the detriment of no length.
A good eye muscle figure most certainly doesn’t mean that it has a good hindquarter. I have been involved in a number of progeny trials for a while and in none of them has there been any correlation between ema figures and total meat yield. I think that with the introduction of the measuring of eye muscle area many breeders forgot about the rest of the sheep and accordingly today we have generally poorer hindquarters than we had 10 to 15 years ago. However as you know Waidale sheep in my view have bloody good hindquarters, it’s something that was important to my father which I continue to maintain and improve on. If you lose your hindquarter its generations to get it back.
Using 2th rams over your hoggets: I wanted to bring this up as it seems some farmers seem to think they have to buy ram lambs if you are going to mate your hoggets. Well quite frankly that’s bullshit. In recent times I almost always use 2ths or sometimes older rams over my hoggets without any issues at all. Firstly if your ewe lambs are that bloody small that your worried that a 2th ram mounting them will crush them, then you probably shouldn’t be mating your ewe hoggets. Secondly a 2th ram, I would quite happily mate at 1 to 80 or 90, as opposed to a ram lamb maximum of say 1 to 50. Thirdly and probably most significantly the quality of the ram lambs you buy will in most cases be nowhere as good as the 2ths you buy. Quite simply as every breeder I know always keep his best rams to grow out as 2ths, it’s only those they deem not good enough that they try to sell as ram lambs.
Stockmanship Video: I am still championing this, I thought we were going to get it done this autumn, but Beef and Lamb have put it on hold, but I believe they are still keen to fund it, so fingers crossed, I will eventually get this done in next 12 months. My idea is to ensure we film a bad example and a good example of every trait of the sheep we are talking about. Simplistically for example you have a good mouth, an overshot one and an undershot one, but you do this for everything, eyes, pasterns, shoulders etc. that way people can truly see what one is talking about. I believe if it’s done properly it will be a valuable asset for decades to come. Thankfully one farmer has agreed to give me access to his massive mob of ewe hoggets to source these faults, which I immensely grateful for.
Beef and Lamb Genetics Forum in Napier July 17: I attended it this year and it’s always an interesting forum. They were really pushing the use of Genomics, one scientist even suggested you shouldn’t be breeding if you not doing all you progeny. This was such a bullshit statement, genomic breeding values are more accurate than Sil ebvs that there is no doubt, but not that much more that they are going to drastically change the way we breed sheep. For me to do this it would cost me $25000 to do my ewes, a one off cost, then annual cost of around $37500 a year to sample 1500 lambs. I tag and record my lambs at birth, ignoring labour, but tags cost around $850, so realistically the economics don’t stack up. Those that do this I think probably have more money than sense, but most that I know use it purely and simply as a marketing tool.
I wrote an article on this; to see it go to my website, click on Waidale Blog. Everything I write and publish in Canterbury Farmer (sometimes also in NZ Farmer and Farmers Weekly, as I don’t get paid for it) is on this site.
The other thing that worries me about these forums, is that I am not convinced that everyone there are the leading breeders, certainly they are all very passionate, but I would describe some of them as a bit extreme at times. You get discussions saying “we need to breeding for worm resistance, facial eczema tolerance, no tails, no dags, no lice… etc” which are all good goals, but every time you add another trait to select for the job of breeding a good sheep gets exponentially much harder. For example it’s much easier to breed terminals than Romneys as you don’t have to worry about wool and fertility. I am not saying we don’t aim for these things, but it has to be over long time frame, otherwise we run the risk of breeding an animal that is all these things I mentioned above, but quite frankly is a waste of space, its mongrel not worth feeding or eating.
Alliance and Te Mana Lamb. Again I have written an article about this. I somewhat doubt the rest of us are going to get the 20 cent premium per Kg (I understand that’s what it is) that Headwaters are getting for this lamb. A premium for a bit of intramuscular fat, which I was assured by the scientists and other processors who spoke at the sheep breeders forum mentioned above is present in most lambs to varying degrees. Apparently the most important aspects of a good tasting lamb is firstly giving the lamb time to lay down fat, i.e. finish it properly, second how they are handled (i.e. quietly) and thirdly how long the carcass is allowed to hang: intramuscular fat is a distant fourth. I would argue that fine wool fine texture stock may also be up there, given traditionally how a southdown and merino lamb or cross of one of these breeds is deemed to be some of the finest eating (strangely no research seems to of be done on this despite being a long standing held belief for as long as I can remember.)
I understand Headwaters finish the lambs on Chicory and clover, which is probably the most important thing they are doing to improve taste. This is not rocket science I have been advocating for years we should be paid for lambs that are truly in good order for killing as opposed to lambs that need more finishing but are being are killed anyway. Yet Alliance are paying them more than I will get. On top of this as Alliance shareholders and tax payers we have funded this research, which as I say anecdotally doesn’t seem that dramatic, but despite funding it, we are not allowed to see the research.
Finally I am not sure who come up with the brand name, but I would have thought for marketing a lamb overseas as a great tasting lamb, that you would pick a language that the majority of overseas consumers may be able relate to as nice tasting lamb. Not only do you have to establish this brand you have to explain what the hell it means. If it was just being sold in New Zealand probably a great brand, but overseas?
Amazing new developments in Waidale’s breeding program!! Same Old here, as breeding is a long term process. At Waidale I:
- am sure of the type I am trying to breed, unlike a lot of breeders it would seem. I am definitely not trying to reduce the live weight of my stock in any of the breeds now. What I am trying to do is breed a sheep, that’s thicker, deeper, gruntier but still the same weight. A sheep that appears smaller in stature but still heavy and meaty. I firmly believe there is a strong correlation between this type of animal and constitution (not 100% but certainly strong) and such will perform better in all types of environments and terrain; and
- focus on growth rates, but on the crunch time: for any terminal lamb it is how fast it grows and how heavy it is at 80 days to around 150 days, that’s the money time. Growth rates are always important, but paramount in what I am doing as there is a strong correlation between bigger frame sheep and higher growth rates, so I need to ensure that I am using rams that are of the type I want as described above, but still have very good growth rates.
- don’t drench the adult ewes (those that don’t handle it are culled, our pragmatic worm resistance program), we are slowly reaping the rewards from this policy, I don’t know when we started doing this, but it must be 10 years or more now: and
- practice an extended drench program of 6 to 8 weeks on our lambs (except for those we cull and kill); and
- cull all year around for conformation constitution etc, all good breeders should be doing this; and
- only use sires that look as they should and have good SIL figures: a good ram with poor figures will not be used and similarly a poor ram with great figures will also not be used. Too many breeders use poor rams with great figures, not at Waidale! and
- practice the dying art of stockmanship which ensures our flock is of a consistent type that reflects the type of sheep I want to breed, i.e. good on feet legs, good jaw, good eyes, good colour, good length, good width, good depth, good hind quarters etc. (All these things affect the future productivity of your flock, if you don’t maintain it, in the short term not a significant impact, but long term major impact). You do this for long enough your phenotype will reflect the genotype, which greatly increases the likelihood that a ram you like the look of will actually pass on the production traits you see in that ram; and
- have all flocks (except the Lincolns) SIL recorded; and
- footrot and cold tolerance profile sires to ensure I am not using a dud ram (some people slag this footrot test, it does not mean you won’t get footrot, but I know from my experience with the Lincolns that it has merit, straight Whydid Lincolns rarely profile anything but the highest i.e. 1.1 and they are very rarely lame). We are also are on a farm that would have more footrot challenge than most, and accordingly we have been culling all the time for years on this. You need a footrot challenge to ensure you are breeding sheep that have some resistance to it. This has been a key focus for many years and it does pay dividends continuously culling sheep with bad feet ; and
- eye muscle scan all rams I keep through the winter; and
- collect viascan data on all culled lambs killed, unfortunately it’s only this year with new across flock evaluation that this data can actually utilised and add value to the SIL meat index; and
- cull all Romney ewes that have two singles in a row; and
- mate our ewe hoggets for 18 days only; and
- tag all lambs at birth to ensure accurate pedigrees which in turn promotes greater accuracy in SIL figures; and
- wean in excess of 150% with the Romneys, more like 160 these days, almost irrespective of what they scan; and
- have an honest upfront attitude. I pride myself on my directness and my honesty; and
- have an extensive website www.waidalerams.co.nz, which details all of the above and more; it’s worth a look.
Canterbury Farmer Column: If interested go to Waidale Blog On my website to see all I have written: This year to date:
There is also a number of other articles that I have written over the years there if you really struggling to fall asleep.
Waidale Buy Sell and Swap
I have still got my boat, thought I had it sold a coupler times but I am not in a rush, so if anyone is interested before, water tax, capital gains tax comes in and income tax goes up, give me a ring. It is in bloody good order.
2001 Figlass Warrior Boat: 6.4 Metres. It has a 2001 Optimax Mercury 135hp motor, it’s still only done a 160 hours. And it is on a 2001 Tandem Trailer. It’s in bloody good order. In the time I have had it, I only ever used it on the Opuha dam i.e. in fresh water. Don’t really want to sell it, but dam lacking water last two years and secondly my daughter is growing up and more interested in other things, so I haven’t used it for two years, so pointless to have it sitting in the shed. I have just had it serviced (do it every year) and all good. It’s worth $38500. For another $900 I will chuck in a great biscuit, kneeboard, wakeboard (all new or near new) and some old skis. If you have kids it’s a fantastic thing to have, I wish I had bought it earlier than I did.
Ian Baker, the guy working for me has put my handy huntaway “Yoda” back over his huntaway bitch again, he did this last year and as I understand they are doing well. So if you are interested in a good huntaway pup give us a yell. They haven’t even been born yet. Yoda is very good dog, ton of guts, intelligent, will head, but backs really well. That’s him to the right sitting down and playing with Porky; who thinks he is the number one dog on the farm.
I would like to take this opportunity acknowledge and give a plug to those that support my sale, their support is greatly appreciated. Namely:
Temuka Transport Farmers Mutual Group “FMG”
Mulcahy Wool and Skin Merchants Essential Nutrition
Alpine Buildings Ravensdown
Technipharm Turnbull Grain and Seed
Vetlife Mallinson shearing
ASB PGG Wrightson
Glenleigh Agriculture Contractor. Boonies footwear
Anyway catalogues will be posted out first week of November for my on farm sale to be held at 3pm on Wednesday 29 November 2017. All rams offered (including probably a coupler Piggies going to Christchurch) will be uploaded at www.agonline.co.nz around this same time (about 3 weeks before the sale): all you will have to do is go to that site and click on the Waidalerams sale icons to get there.
If anyone has any questions about anything I have written please feel free to contact me, I welcome the discussion. But if I don’t see you before, I look forward to seeing you at my sale and having a beer with you. As I always say, it’s the only time of the year I shout, so even if you don’t want a ram, come along and have something to eat and a drink or two.