Business Rural Summer 2021

32 | Wharetoa Genetics strong since the 70’s Russell Fredric MEAT & WOOL » Wharetoa Genetics W haretoa Genetics is a sheep stud where science and traditional stockmanship coexist in perfect harmony. Owners Garth and Chris Shaw have achieved outstanding results from the superior genetics de- veloped in their flocks during the past five decades, especially when it comes to improving the bottom line. Garth says one of the key things farm advisers and accountants highlight in relation to profitability is the mean kill date. “We’ve been consistently getting half our lambs away at weaning time so our mean kill date is basically late December which is quite remarkable really.” By comparison, Garth has been told by his ac- countant that the mean kill date for the majority of sheep farmers in Otago and Southland is mid- February. “It creates an opportunity on your farm to utilise the grass saved. You can either grow your remain- ing lambs to a heavier weight or you can put condi- tion on your ewes to lower your wintering costs and get good production for the following season.” Wharetoa started breeding Coopworth Rams in 1975. The farm supports 1500 fully recorded breeding ewes and 1500 commercial ewes on 400 hectares in South Otago. These comprise five SIL recorded flocks; the ter- minal being Meatmaker (Poll Dorset x Texel), Suftex, and Meatmaker x Suffolk. The Maternal flocks are Wharetoa Maternal (Texel x Coopworth) and Texel. Each composite has a specific combination of genes aimed at producing efficient and profitable lambs. The achieve this, Wharetoa uses the Sheep5K genomic test which estimates, from DNA, future performance. Using Sheep5k means more informed and earlier selection decisions can be made on traits that are key to driving on-farm profitability. DNA testing also enables the identification of the MyoMAX gene which is known to increase a lamb’s carcass weight and muscle yield. DNA testing for parentage means that lambs are not tagged at birth and the ewes can lamb under commercial conditions. Garth favours the traits of the Texel breed for several reasons. “The Texel is very, very good for lamb survival, meat yield and is also good for resistance to inter- nal parasites. By introducing some Texel into pure Romneys or pure Coopworths advantage can be taken of these traits.” The Wharetoa Maternal has been developed to achieve a fast growth rate and high meat yield. Garth emphasises that the ewe has a role of equal importance to the ram because the genetic make-up of commercial ewes contributes 50% of the genes of their lambs. Choosing a breeder who can provide genetics that improve profitability and that produce sheep that are easy to work with is an important long term decision for farmers, Garth says. Although he and Chris have embraced science to the fullest extent they can, this is always balanced with the traditional aspects of running a commercial operation. “Stockmanship is still very important. You don’t learn stockmanship off a computer, you learn stock- manship with being out with the sheep.” This year’s on-farm auction will be held on De- cember 17, with an open day on November 26. “The quality of the rams put up for sale is at my discretion. I only put forward rams that I would be happy to use myself as a commercial farmer. “We’ve been consistently getting half our lambs away at weaning time.” Garth Shaw with Wharetoa maternal 2 tooth rams (top). Suftex 2 tooth rams (below). Growing a better New Zealand together Our rural managers have an in-depth knowledge of agribusiness. Find out more at Open Day, Friday 26 November, 10am - 3pm On-farm Auction, Friday December 17, 12 midday FOR SALE: 300 Maternal and Terminal Rams proven to increase growth rate & meat yield of export lambs. MATERNALS Texel Wharetoa Maternal TERMINALS Meatmaker Suftex Meatmaker x Suftex Garth Shaw; 027 273 7037 • Warwick Howie (PGGW); 027 437 5276