Since getting our eczema genetics sorted around 10 to 15 years ago Waimai Romney has put a huge focus on sheep fertility, and now we regularly have rams in the top 5%, across all maternal breeds (New Zealand Maternal Worth( NZMW)) for reproduction (DPR).
The average DPR of our 2018 Sires used, were in the top 10%, on NZMW, for reproduction
At Waimai Romney we have been mating our hogget’s for over 10 years with only those scanned in lamb being retained. We believe this has been a huge driver in improving our sheep fertility.
“Fertility is a huge driver of profitability in a sheep breeding system.”
Over the last 5 years Waimai Romney have had a huge focus on selecting rams with good survival (DPS), as lamb survival at birth is where a lot of wastage in our sheep systems occurs. It is pointless having a large scanning % if a lot of these lambs are lost through to weaning.
Bad survival is a combination of poor structure, poor mothering instincts, poor udder set and teat placement, issues with milk flow, and of course the weather
“Tagging lambs at birth is an important time at Waimai Romney as we spend time with our ewes on a one-to-one basis and assess their maternal traits. Any poor mothers are recorded and culled, while any lamb that needs assistance, or dies post lambing are recorded as deaths affecting their DPS. Recording lambs at birth is the only way you can guarantee litter size and fate as scanning is not always 100% correct.”
The 2018 Sires at Waimai Romney had a DPS average, in the NZMW, in the top 20%.
Growth rate (DPG) is one of the main selection traits we select for at Waimai Romney, but not at the expense of meat. To enable us to do this we have been EMA (eye muscle scanning) all our ram hogget’s and selecting those high scanning rams. This has resulted in the selection of sire rams with good growth rates but with plenty of meat over their loin and hind quarters.
Waimai Romney are one of the pioneers of facial eczema testing, having first started testing using the Ramguard Service in 1986. Today we have tested over 1000 rams and are now testing at .6mg/kg which puts Waimai Romney at the forefront of eczema genetics in New Zealand. We helped set up the brand FeGold six years ago which identifies those breeders leading facial eczema genetics across all breeds.
"If you are serious about buying facial eczema genetics you need to be buying rams from a FeGold member, as they are the best, and you can trust that they have done the hard work for you."
Waimai Romney has identified the importance that genetics can make in the management of parasities in our sheep systems and have been faecal egg counting since 2005 making them one of the pioneers in selecting for worm tolerance. This year Waimai Romney has become part of the WormFEC Gold brand, which has just been launched. WormFEC Gold aim is “to identify those breeders who are making progress in breeding for resistance to internal parasites.” Faecal egg counting has been undertake using a combination of parasitology egg counting with Gribbles and latterly with WormFEC TM.
We put selection pressure on all our ram lambs by not drenching them from the beginning of January through until the middle of March where we faecal egg count (FEC) each ram. Any ram that cannot thrive under this regime is drenched and culled out of the mob, irrespective of its breeding values.
No Waimai Romney mixed age ewes are drenched.
Our customer has placed a growing emphasis on reducing chemical usage in our food system, and if Waimai Romney can produce sheep that require less drenching it is not only good for our customer but will also reduce costs and workload to our clients.
Waimai Romney has been testing for cold-tolerance since 2006. The cold-tolerance gene maker test results can be used to aid in the selection of sheep that are more likely to have cold tolerant progeny and add in lamb survival.
“Studies have demonstrated genetic variation in cold survival through the establishment of lines of sheep with high and low cold resistance. This research has become the basis of a gene-maker test that enables sheep breeders to identify animals that will produce lambs that are more likely to die from exposure.”
- Cc Prof Jon Hickford
It is important that all animals have a strong jaw and neck that flow down to smooth shoulders and a straight back. A good sheep has straight legs set squarely under the corners of the body with good feet and strong pasterns. All endeavours are made to present sale rams that are structurally sound. All sire rams are DNA tested, indicating their susceptibility or otherwise to footrot and scald.
At Waimai Romney we are looking to breed a wedge-shaped sheep of moderate frame that has a nice tight shoulder going back to a good spring of rib, meaty hindquarters, with a well-developed loin over the top. Genetically linked to Waiteika and Kikitangeo Romney.