Business Rural Spring 2021

62 | Growbulk genetics ‘exceed expectations’ Hugh de Lacy E conomic realities and three different breeds of sheep drove the 15-year develop- ment of the Growbulk sheep genetics of Don“Howie” Morrison’s Rosedale Romney Stud in Southland’sWaikaka Valley. When Les Morrison founded the stud in 1926, his breeding focus was on wool – he won two Golden Fleece titles – but Don’s Growbulk line reflects a greater emphasis on meat. The Growbulk bloodline evolved from the work of AgResearch’s Dr Roland Sumner in the 1980s and 1990s, to breed “a hardy dual-purpose sheep able to consistently meet both meat and wool pro- cessor demands for a fast-growing, well-muscled lamb carcass from a dam producing a heavy bulky fleece.” From eight breeds evaluated, the Polled Dorset and the Texel were chosen to improve the meat production side of the dual-purpose Romney. Because of the extensive objective measure- ments that Rosedale Romney Stud had been conducting for years, it was one of four breeders chosen by AgResearch in 1998 to evaluate the- Growbulk against their existing Romney flocks. And the evidence, in the forms of improved growth weights, lamb vigour and survivability – not to mention an 8% increase in meat yield – was compelling. Now Don’s added the highly muscled Beltex, a Belgian-Texel cross, as an option within his maternal Growbulk programme, to reflect the commercial opportunity of increased meat yield demand from a more efficient breeding ewe. Steve Dent, who farms 1250 ewes and 300 replacement hoggets on 200ha of rolling Otago country near Balclutha, is one commercial farmer who says he has benefitted hugely from the Grow- bulk bloodlines. MEAT & WOOL » Rosedale Growbulk “We switched from Coopworths to Growbulks 10 years ago because of our need as commercial farmers to get live lambs on the ground and out the gate as soon as possible,” Steve says. “I was drawn to the Rosedale bloodline by their good survivability, growth rates and mothering, and I’ve stuck with them ever since. “Everything has exceeded expectations and we are now achieving higher lambing performance from the Growbulks than we were previously with the high-fertility Inverdale gene.” After last year’s dry spring Steve had just 400 16.5kg lambs away to the works off their mothers by Christmas, but in the good spring of the previ- ous year he had 700 away by Christmas, from 162% lambing. “Last year they were off to a very slow start, but by February they’d caught up with the previ- ous year’s drafts,” Steve says. “I’m glad we made the switch to Growbulk – it’s certainly working for us.” The Rosedale breeding operation carries 2000 stud and 2000 commercial ewes, plus 1200 ewe hoggets and some cattle, on 465ha, and Don Morrison is looking forward to seeing the Beltex influence start to come through in both his Growbulk flocks. “One of the most important things a stud- breeder has to do is remain relevant to clients, and a good part of that is understanding the economics right across the supply line, and mak- ing a prediction on what form of production will be relevant,” Don says. “We’re not just stud-breeders at Rosedale: we’re also focussed around what’s important to us as commercial farmers. “Twenty years ago we saw a huge lift in pro- duction from the Growbulk three-way composite, and now we see an opportunity in the shape of the Beltex breed for another major step forward.” For experienced professional legal assistance with Phone: 03 208 9385 Fax: 03 208 9388 Email: PO Box 293 33B Main Street, Gore, 9710, NZ DX YB92511 A.B. Gray & Associates BARRISTERS & SOLICITORS • Buying and Selling of Farms, Businesses and other property • Trusts and Estate Planning • Finance and Re-Finance Cody Waihape 027 849 7314 03 208 1315 “Where quality speaks for itself” Growbulk Ram (above). Growbulk lamb survival put to the test (below). SOUTHERN VEGETATION CONTROL LIMITED Registered Chemical Applicator Call us for all your boom spraying requirements 2 Dungannon Street, Waikaka, 9743 Bretton Taylor 027 471 3705