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Breeding Principles


 Amazing new developments in Waidale’s breeding program!!!! 

The following is summary of the basics that apply to Waidale, there is nothing revolutionary new or different because quite simply there is no magic miracle to breeding good sheep: its good stockmanship first and foremost; consistency of what you do and utilisation of performance figures and science (where it makes a difference, not simply for marketing rams)!!!

At Waidale I:

  • am  sure of the type I am trying to breed, unlike a lot of breeders.   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 a 100% but certainly strong) and as 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 say 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, particularly birth to 150 days with terminals; and
  • 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 recall exactly when we started doing this, but its at least 11 years 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 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 last coupler years with new across flock evaluation that this data can actually  be 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

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