Business Rural Spring 2021

| 51 299 North Road, Invercargill Phone - 03 215 9237 Waikiwi Vet Services Ltd Kim Newth MEAT & WOOL » Mt Nicholas Station / Oatley Hill Stud: Neil Baird Poll Dorset boosting the bottom line Ewes in for shearing. P oll Dorset rams bred at Neil and Sharryl Baird’s Oatley Hill Stud in Wendon, near Gore, are making a positive impact in the region and beyond. The couple are anticipating a busy ram sale season ahead. Local sheep farmer Ian McKay, who lives across the Waikaia River from Neil and Sharryl, is one of their regular ram buyers and is seeing flow on benefits in rising stock numbers on his 449 hec- tare sheep farm. Ian first started buying two-tooth rams from Oatley Hill in 2010. While he’s not buy- ing big numbers (four to six a year), he is pleased at the good results being achieved for his mixed Poll Dorset and Texel Coopworth operation. “I’m getting more lambs away in that Novem- ber/December period and overall stock numbers have increased from around 600 or 700 in 2009/10 to 1700 in a good year,” says Ian. “That is not all down to the Poll Dorsets but they have certainly helped; I go for twin rams with that proven maternal history.” Ian’s main focus is on lamb production. He keeps the best ewe lambs but the bulk will go to the works from November through to January. The Poll Dorset is a popular terminal sire breed, a champion at producing superior prime lambs and prized for high growth rates, superior muscling and leanness. “The Texel Coopworth isn’t far behind but the Poll Dorsets definitely weigh heavier in November/ December. I like to keep some Poll Dorset ewe lambs for the flock and find they stack up well from that maternal perspective too. They’re a good all-round sheep and an old established breed.” Ian sees many advantages in sourcing his rams locally. “They have been bred for this climate and this type of country. For me, it has worked out very well.” Neil and Sharryl have some 80 young Poll Dorset rams coming available for private sale this summer, and 70 Charolais cross rams. The couple founded the stud in 2007. “We always used Poll Dorsets and had been buying rams from Ross Miller’s stud in Heriot for 29 years,” Neil recalls. “It came up for sale in 2007 and so that year we came home with the whole stud!” At their Oatley Hill property, the quality keeps on improving with the focus very much on growth Phil says while the tourism side of the business did drop off due to Covid, it has built up again with a lot of enquiries coming through for events as well as accommodation. Phil looks over the lakefront and says everything about the station is pretty special. “A big iconic Kiwi owned station on the lakefront — it doesn’t get any more special than that really. Just to stay here and live the dream really; that’s our future.” For a 15-year-old boy who left school sixteen years ago with NCEA level one, Phil’s achievement speaks of drive, determination and a passion for the animals, people and the great outdoors. KS & GMMuir Contracting 136 Mountain Rd, RD2, Gore 9772 Ph. 03 208 8080 Cell 0274 361 329 Poll Dorset Rams at 700 metres at Bixter Station. • from page 50 Mt Nicholas embraces twelve kilometres of lakefront. and yield. Performance recording is a real strength, boosting genetic gain. Neil and Sharryl source their own top sires from other leading studs, such as Ohio Stud at Pukerau and Manu stud in Whangarei. “We’re noticing that the Poll Dorset is getting more popular as a maternal breed too because of the milk they produce, and more fat lambs,” observes Neil, whose family has a long sheep and farm background in Southland. Oatley Hill has a mob of 8000 commercial Poll Dorset and Romney cross ewes, out of which they kill upwards of 6000 lambs at weaning, weigh- ing 18.5kg, which proves the milking ability and growth of the Poll Dorset breed.