Home' Otago Southland Farmer : February 8th 2013 Contents 8
A Consortium of AgResearch Ltd and Beef + Lamb New Zealand
Ovita research into improving ewe efficiency is looking at how to predict
adult ewe liveweight and ewe longevity.
There's no quick fix when it comes to lamb survival, but attention to condition will go
a long way.
Russel Welsh from the Waimea Valley near Gore has been involved in Ovita's lamb
survival programme for several years. Being based in Southland, he knows only too well
that a bad storm at the wrong time can be disastrous.
But while there's not much that can be done about the weather, he can control getting
his Tefron ewes in optimum condition, and attention to detail will mean lambs at a decent
birth weight. Obviously, shelter is very important, but so is producing robust animals.
"We've had winters where it may be warmer in the fridge than outside. The key to lamb
survival in those conditions is get the lambs up and suckling as quickly as possible and
having the mum in condition to produce the milk they need; giving a 60 percent greater
chance of survival.
As part of the Lamb Survival programme, Mr Walsh autopsied the lambs that didn't
survive over several seasons and took DNA samples, to identify causes and see if there
were patterns in the deaths. While the results didn't point to any one cause, he has learnt
a lot to fine-tune feed management, and he still routinely records the cause of death,
and weighs lambs at birth.
Growth rates are important, and he's honed in on the nutritional requirements of the
ewes, managing single-bearing ewes and multiples separately to ensure optimum
condition for each group. That may mean trying to put on an extra 2-3 kilograms on
the ewes over the winter.
"It's incremental rather than major change, but every bit helps. Good information helps
to make better decisions.
"This technology is a result of New Zealand farmer investment in Beef +
Lamb New Zealand and Ovita.
Contact Eleanor Linscott 03-477-0697 for more information,
or visit www.ovita.co.nz
Next Publication date:
Fri 22nd February 2013
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Mon 18th February 2013 at 5pm
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Hogget lambing enterprise explained
Hogget lambing is an
important part of Peter Bee's
farming operation. Diane
Talking business: Agribusiness consultant Deane Carson, left, talks with Glenham farmer Peter ''Buzz'' Bee about hogget mating.
I leave them to it (lambing) as
much as possible. As long as they've
got a head and leg out they should be
--- Glenham farmer Peter ''Buzz'' Bee
Glenham farmer Peter ''Buzz'' Bee has a no
fuss approach to his lambing hoggets.
And it works.
He has been putting the ram out with them
for the past decade and is consistently
achieving a lambing percentage in the mid
To achieve this result he admits to ''feeding
the heck out of them'' and keeping stress to
Peter trialled many sheep breeds such as
Romneys, Coopworths and Highlanders
before settling on a Texel-Motunui
Romney-cross ewe flock.
He farms about 2000 ewes and 550
replacement ewe hoggets on his 231ha
property, of which he owns 162ha and
leases the balance.
He also runs a few cattle.
Peter said it was poverty that drove him to
put the ram out with his hoggets 10 years
''They were a way of helping me pay for the
lease block and I needed the extra money,''
he told farmers at a hogget lambing
seminar held as part of the Beef + Lamb
New Zealand Eastern Southland monitor
He was also getting good production from
his ewes which were lambing about 150 per
The hoggets, which are ad-lib fed from
weaning, are well into the 50kg liveweight
range when they go to the South Suffolk-
Cheviot cross ram in early May.
Peter believes getting them to a good
weight is the key to a high conception rate
and they typically scan 120 to 130 per cent.
Teaser rams are used for 18 days before the
ram goes out for at least a month at a ratio
of one to 60 hoggets.
Peter prefers to source older cheaper rams
for hogget mating while his ewes go to
Wharetoa maternal rams he gets from
Garth Shaw at Clydevale.
Animal health is a priority for Peter and
the hoggets are drenched every five weeks
until mating. They also receive Campy-
lovexin and Toxovax as well as a 6-in-1
vaccine pre-lamb. Cobalt and selenium are
also applied to the paddocks and the yards
are hosed down regularly to prevent the
hoggets being affected by dust.
The hogget lambs may be small at birth but
the mix of breeds gives the hybrid vigour
necessary to achieve good growth rates.
Peter takes a hard-nosed approach to
lambing his hoggets, only going around
them once a day, which ensures survival of
''I leave them to it as much as possible.
''As long as they've got a head and leg out
they should be OK.''
The hogget lambs were usually weaned in
mid-January and 100 were killed in a
weaning draft at 18.36kg carcass weight.
Peter believes the hoggets that successfully
lamb make better mothers as two-tooths
because the poor lambers don't survive.
One of the downsides to lambing hoggets is
the long lambing but he keeps it condensed
as much as possible.
''My wife says lambing has to be finished
by Labour Weekend.''
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