Head Shepherd

Three years into transitioning to a finer wool genotype. With Mark Wragg.

February 06, 2023 Season 2023 Episode 118
Head Shepherd
Three years into transitioning to a finer wool genotype. With Mark Wragg.
Show Notes

Mark Wragg transitioned from Romney ewes to a finer wool cross three years ago. Today he chats to Mark Ferguson about that process and also about the introduction of a White Suffolk stud to their business.

After attending a NZM workshop a few years ago Cheviot, which Mark Ferguson spoke at, Mark Wragg decided to make the jump into transitioning to finer wool genotype.

"A long time ago they tried merinos but the feet just fell apart.  We have heavy clay downs and it stays wet all winter. It's pretty hard on feet." But after hearing about the work done in footrot breeding values in Merinos, Mark decided to give it another go. "Certainly that workshop opened our eyes to the potential and what was possible."

Mark introduced the Southern Cross genotype into his Romney flock three years ago. The southern cross is a fine wool sheep that focuses very heavily on footrot breeding values, dag breeding values and WEC breeding values...

"...and all the things you need to entice a Romney farmer to take on a fine wool genotype. " says Ferg

Ferg and Mark run through the highs and lows of transitioning into a new genotype.

The main issue is uneven lines of lambs. But as Mark explains, "It's just transitioning and its's part of it and you've got to grin and bare it until you get through it."

But the highlights?

"We had the opportunity to shear about 4000 first cross lambs and even in that first cross they went from $2.50 for Romney lambs wool to getting almost $10 a kilo for that first cross wool"

"Certainly helped with paying the shearers." says Mark.

Along with the first cross hoggets averaging 26 micron, weaning weights being up 2kg on last year and there not being a sign of footrot on the place, you could say Mark is convinced. 

Mark also discusses the introduction of the White Suffolks into New Zealand from Australia.  "The thing I really like about the White Suffolk is that it has a really nice shape for lambing ease nice, low birth weights but very rapid growth, which is what kiwis needs as seasons are short and variable."

Ferg also has a love for the breed. "It would be hard to argue there is a more performance driven terminal breed in the world than the White Suffolk."

This podcast is a great insight into what it looks like to transition from a Romney to a finer wool genotype without sacrificing any of the production traits that traditionally came with a finer wool type. 

Head Shepherd is brought to you by neXtgen Agri International Limited, we help livestock farmers get the most out of the genetics they farm with. Get in touch with us if you would like to hear more about how we can help you do what you do best - info@nextgenagri.com.

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