From day one our aim has been to utilize the Australian genetics to enhance true dual-purpose attributes in our Merinos, whilst not losing sight of the constitution and adapting that NZ Merinos have developed over 150 years of being run in our high-country environment.
Free-growing, deep-crimping wools with fibre-alignment, density, whiteness, optimum nourishment and a good “thatching” surface (to minimize VM contamination) are what we are aiming to breed on a relatively uncomplicated body. Adult micron averages 18.5-19.5 with stud ewes cutting 7.5 - 8 kgs and commercial ewes cutting approx. 7 kgs. Structurally we are looking for good heads on long, well-barreled bodies with excellent top-line, feet and pasterns.
We have been DNA testing and breeding for foot-rot resilience since starting and are making great progress which is really important to a number of our clients.
Also we have muscle scanned for the last 2 years and believe that utilizing this new information, particularly from a sire point of view, will enhance carcass attributes in future generations.
Fertility is another attribute that we place great importance on and commercial scanning results over many years consistently sit in the 145-155% range. Latterly the Stud ewes have achieved up to 190% for MA and 157% for 2-2ths so we may see future genetic improvements with the commercials flowing through. However it’s not all about scanning… lamb survival and good mothering ability are traits that can be improved in Merinos! However, in saying that, we believe our ewes can count to two and are excellent milkers. This season’s lamb loss from scanning to tailing was 12.8% despite 3 small snow events during lambing which is very satisfactory.
The Stud is run under High-country conditions at 900m ASL with the ewe hoggets summering with their commercial siblings and only separated pre-tupping in the autumn. Historically the ewes have had no supplements, other than salt, although we are now experimenting with self-feeding grain feeders, especially late pregnancy to see if we can improve foetal size and survival, particularly in multiples.