Business Rural Spring 2021

32 | Covid forces rethink on sourcing Aust genetics Photos: Dorset two tooth sale rams (above). Leo Hamilton (below right) manager of Awatea, which is run in conjunction with Craigneuk, looking at halfbred ram hoggets. C ovid-19 has made sheep breeder Johnny Duncan from Craigneuk look at a different method of sourcing genetics this year. Johnny typically heads over to Australia in around July/August to take a look at the latest rams. This year he will leverage a relationship with Australian sheep classer Chris Bowman, who he has been working with for 10-15 years, to continue to source the best genetics from across the Tasman. “Usually we import rams from Australia but we’ll look to import semen this year from top class sheep and Chris will advise us,” says Johnny. “We’ll then assess the progeny and cross the best of them over our Romney ewes to breed our half-bred rams.” Breeding has also been enhanced by the recent addition of worm resistant Romney ewes from Gor- don Levet’s Kikitangeo Romney Stud in Northland to breed worm resistance into the halfbreds over the long term. Craigneuk has a Dorset Down stud and a half- bred ram stud, selling about 650 rams each year. About 250 are sold in the annual January on-farm sale, now in its 19th year, with the balance sold in February. John says that he hopes a high SIL young sire from Glendhu Stud in Heriot will help to drive his Dorset Down stud to greater SIL figures. “We are traditional stockmen in that we like to be hands on and select by eye appraisal. To me a good sheep should look good as well as have good figures. But clients, especially the younger generation, are more focused on figures now so this is in response to that to drive our figures a bit,” he explains. Craigneuk is located in Central Otago and the operation consists of two main farms: 2500ha MEAT & WOOL » Craigneuk: John & Judy Duncan Karen Phelps Craigneuk and 2800ha Awatea, both in the Maniototo Plains. John and wife Judy purchased Craigneuk in 1992 and, in 1998, 2800ha Awatea, located just ten minutes down the road. Both farms are run as one. Two thirds of the farms is hill country with ir- rigated flat land going down to the Taieri River. The family has 425 shares in the Maniototo West Side Irrigation Company. The operation includes 9000 ewes, 13,000 sheep and 250 breeding cows. There are also 150 velveting stags, 60 hinds, 45-50 spikers and 45-50 yearling hinds. All are pure English Red and it’s a family interest with John having deer on the farm since 1979. The velveting stag’s first cut last year averaged 5.5kgs of velvet – up from 4.8kgs the year before – due to using fodder beet and barley. Just over a year ago an additional 1700ha hill block located between the two farms, and a 160ha block near Craigneuk were added into the mix to make more room for stock to spread out to bal- ance the more intensively run flats of their farming operation. They use the 1700ha hill block for raising hog- gets, 2000 ewes are shifted there at weaning and 70 cows calve and are wintered there. As the family also has shares in a 390ha dairy farm milking 1050 cows located next door to Awatea, the block has allowed them to fatten 100 beef cross calves they obtain from the dairy farm each year. It also has synergies as they lease their yearling bulls to the dairy farm as well. Johnny says it has been highly successful with steers sent to the works at 300 kilograms and in the late 200 kilograms for heifers. The smaller 160ha block complements Craigneuk and is used for weaning Romney ewes and calving. 03 444 9194 | Stu: 021 224 2320 Proud to support Craigneuk Peter 027 433 3522 | (03) 448 6378 | Servicing wool growing clients in Southland, Otago & South Canterbury P ETER L YON S HEARING