Business Rural Spring 2021

| 41 Early uptake of computer recording key Sue Russell K aty and John Parish run Wakaepa Romney Stud, based in Waimumu, Gore District. Katy says the most important factor in the success of the stud is its structural soundness. “A sheep has to have good feet, stand correctly and walk properly or it won’t last and all the best figures in the world mean nothing. Our next focus is to maximise selection by producing as many live lambs as possible” Katy explains. Wakaepa Romney Stud was established in 1949 by Katy’s late Father, Edgar Ridgen and Katy took over its operation in 1996. She puts a great deal of store on the fact that Edgar was one of the first breeders to seriously adopt computer recording back in the early 1970’s, called Sheep Plan, which has now developed into SIL. She has built on his work and now has some of the top performing sheep on the national data base. The stud operates under commercial conditions in a part of the country where snow is not uncom- mon during lambing. Katy says, in places such as the deep south, it’s important to breed ewes capable of producing multiple lambs consistently. “Especially in Southland, where there are limits on the number of ewes that can be wintered, the more lambs in the spring, when growth returns, the better the match of our pasture growth curve and therefore the better our profitability and efficiency.” In recent years 170% tailed lambs to ewes mated is common and the Stud has twice achieved 179%. Ewes consistently producing and rearing triplets are valued and during lambing an intensive recording system, ensures the performance of every ewe is understood. “All stud lambs are tagged and weighed at birth and we also record an assessment of the dam with a Material Behaviour Score. Mothering ability, ease of lambing and birth weights are all key drivers to our good survival figures.” Katy says their sheep carry good width, with well sprung ribs and good depth of body; lending them MEAT & WOOL » Katy & John Parish Photos: Wakaepa Sale rams (2019) and lambing at Waimumu with the Hokonui Hills in the background. to holding great gut capacity. “They can fit lots of feed and lots of lambs so our Romneys have no bearing prolapses.” Sires and potential sires are DNA tested to determine genomic Breeding values. Keeping me- ticulous records in the lambing paddock completes the picture not only from a maternal performance perspective but from progeny value in terms of vigour and gain. Texel has been introduced into part of the flock to improve the meatiness of the carcass, however Katy says there is almost always a down-side to widening the genetic pool. “A meatier lamb may be produced but they can then throw up other problems, such as feet issues, reduced wool quality and reduced longevity. There’s certainly no perfect sheep and breeding is a long term process requiring attention to detail and patience.” In early June, the stud was approached to supply a sire’s DNA for the International Sheep Genomics Consortium for the worldwide “1000 sheep Genome Project”. “They will use our DNA formapping of the sheep genome and it’s really an honour to be recognised as having accurate data and sheep worthy of being involved in this international research.” In the last few years Wakaepa Romney Stud has been mating between 300 and 320 stud ewes and about 100 stud ewe hoggets. Before mating ewes are weighed with a body condition score taken. While fertility rates have remained consistent, Katy says its pleasing to see improvement in surviv- ability. Asked why Romney is the breed of choice Katy says it comes down to their dual purpose nature. “While the wool traditionally was very important, Romney’s have always been good lambers and good mothers.” And lamenting the demise in the valuing of the wool clip Katy says those historically responsible for marketing have let the sector down and a reliance on China as the major market hasn’t served us well. One of the real benefits with wool Katy knows lies in the fact that it doesn’t erupt into flame, carrying toxic fumes which often are the cause of fatalities in house fires. “We know this from our own experience when a spark flew out of the fire and got between the hearth and the carpet. It smouldered away all night from 9.30pm until 3am when we became aware of it. It had burnt a man-sized hole in the floor but the drooping carpet smothered the fire from igniting in the floor boards.” And when not busy taking care of the stud, the couple enjoy time off-farm with their interest in vin- tage and classic cars, with a British-made pre-war Alvis and a 1923 Bentley. “We are both involved in our local vintage car club and have had great trips away with them and the Alvis and Bentley clubs. It’s good to get off the farm when we can.” “There’s certainly no perfect sheep and breeding is a long term process requiring attention to detail and patience.” Wakaepa Romney Stud’s Katy and John Parish. Wakaepa Romneys Breed for: • Structural soundness • High production with E iciency • Excellent survival & mothering ability • Stay-ability and BCS • No bearings in our stud Romneys • Lambing 170% plus tailed/tupped Br : • l i i i i i ll i l i ili ili i i i l il Sires in top 200 Leaders Lists for NZMW and NZMW+M i i i Contact: Katy Parish 03 208 5505 or 027 353 3597 Gore Wakaepameans “Opportunity to cast anew” - Give us a try! • Livestock Cartage • Bulk Cartage • Woodchip & Sawdust (available now) • Fertiliser Sowers with GPS (03) 203 8118 195 Main Street, Mataura Your locally owned & operated transport company PROUD TO SUPPORT KATY PARISH & WAKAEPA ROMNEYS