Since I last wrote earlier in June, we probably all have experienced one of the kindest winters ever. NIWA have called it the warmest winter on record and good grass growth combined with warmer stock leading to reduced stock demand meant nearly everyone had great covers going into lambing.
We wouldn’t have thought that likely in early April. And now we have had the best start to spring for many years including pretty good lambing weather so survival has been excellent.
From my scanning sheets for both the commercial and stud ewes there were 2472 potential lambs excluding the stud’s triplet lambs which are identified for accuracy at tagging.
There were 2239 lambs at docking so the 233 not present was a 9.4% death rate. I’ve been below 10% 2 or 3 other years but it is not easy with scanning rates above 180% (excl trips). I’m sceptical of claims by other studs of death rates closer to 5% but I will continue to select using the survival index and gene markers and set it as a breeding goal.
However it could have been much better if I hadn’t had my highest ewe death rate for many years. The 47 ewes that died contributed to a third of the lamb death rate and came in at 3.4% of ewes put to the ram. But with 2.7% lost lambers and 2.5% dry giving an overall wastage rate of 8.6%, probably not too bad given the drought at the beginning of the year.
At vaccination time in mid July, the ewes were in the best condition ever with a condition score of 4 and nothing under 3. So I may have killed a few with kindness perhaps but it certainly assisted lamb birth weight and udder development which is benefiting current growth rates. I had taken weight off them in the first trimester as recommended for bearing control as I built cover coming out of the drought. Usually I don’t lose too many from bearings but this year 20% of the deaths were from bearings and I saved an equal number. Another 20% died from being cast and would have been far greater if I hadn’t been attentive as I’ve never had so many cast ewes. Stuck lambs (nearly all in the multiple mobs) were the biggest killer this year with 32% of deaths and a reflection of the excellent birth weights. It is really difficult to get the balance right!
The 2239 lambs on hand contrasts with 2925 this time last year which wasn’t bad off 320ha along with 310 cattle. That was a result of the exceptional scanning, good survival and ewe hgts lambing. It was challenging finishing 2200 lambs through the drought but other than 140 tail enders sold store, it was done and as quickly as possible.
2012 born ewe hoggets
I’d made the decision not to tup the ewe hgts in February as I didn’t think they’d make target weights preferring instead to winter extra ones. However by the beginning of May when the rams would have gone out, they were in pretty good order. Instead I bought a lot of yearling bulls before the price increased.
One client who did tup his ram hgts was Paul Dearden. These were Paul’s first Coopworth cross progeny so he was interested to compare with the progeny from his previous ram breeder. His hgts from both mobs were an excellent 48kg at scanning and all run together except during tupping. It is pleasing to see quite a fertility advantage over a high profile stud known for the fertility of their sheep.
Coopworths Kelso Total
Dries 38 11.3% 81 13.8% 119 12.9%
Singles 136 40.4% 302 51.6% 438 47.5%
Twins 163 48.4% 202 34.5% 365 39.6%
Total 337 137.1% 585 120.7% 922 126.7%
I’ve been using the highest tech breeding tools available such as the SNP chip tests, CT scanning and gene testing but until now utilized 19th century methods of marketing, namely newspaper advertising.
For those of you more up to speed with web site design, please feel free to critique the new web site and give me some feedback if you think things can be improved. You can find it at this address;
The 2th Rams
I’ve just had a final cull on a few faults and the lowest DPO’s. There will be very few below 2000 DPO available which was the highest indexes a couple of years ago.
Attached to this email are the latest selection sheets. Updated sheets will be available in December at selling time. These sheets are in index (DPO) order and include all the sires used in recent years. You can see that it is not many years between being a superstar and dog tucker! Last year’s industry Super Sire, Marlow 5203/04 for example is 187th on this list and 200 points below the cut off for this year’s sale rams. There would be few studs in the country with this transparency by making these full sheets available now and at sale.
There are 140 2ths at this point, down from 380 at weaning. Ten of the top ones are due shortly to undergo the Ramguard FE test at the .6 level which we have been testing at for several years now. All will be B.Ovis tested in two weeks.
Because of some new inquiry, I will ring you over the next few weeks to get an approximate number of 2th rams you may require before committing to any new clients.
Thank you for your on-going support of Marlow genetics and I lets hope the weather continues to behave as well as it has done in recent months.