Let me start by wishing you a very happy healthy and prosperous New Year!
A quick recap of 2023
We started the year with a very good scan result for us. 188% over 4.500 ewes, a good 10 points above our target.
It would not be an understatement to describe 2023 as a “wet” year which at times proved challenging. High February and March rainfall meant that lambing at Locks was a totally quad bike affair, nothing else would travel in the lower fields. Rain seemed to fall on most days, and a large proportion of lambs would have been 10 days old before they had a dry back.
10 May 2023
This photo of our marquee at the NSA southwest sheep, on the Derrymans Farm at Yarcombe Devon, shows that the whole country was having problems. It is a great testament to the Derryman Family that they produced such a great show, under such difficult circumstances.
July / August 2023
At weaning we cull any ewes that have had a cull tag inserted during the season. i.e. help needed at lambing, unacceptable mothering ability, foot problems, prolapse, fly strike etc.
Ram sales start. September saw us export 2 full lorry loads of breeding stock, 550 females and 40 rams to existing and new clients in France.
September Ram Lambs
Post weaning sees us starting to go through the 800 plus, 2023 spring born ram lambs from the recorded flock. These are managed through the next nine months in large mobs (300 plus) on average grazing with no concentrates, so that we can put them under real selection pressure.
The basis of our ram breeding policy is that we start with lots of high-performance recorded ewes (1000 plus) you mate these to the best performance recorded rams, to produce the best performance recorded offspring. You subject these top performance animals to stringent mob selection under very commercial conditions so that you only offer the very best.
i.e. Breed lots
Cull lots Only sell the very best
This time of year, sees us going through all our SIL performance breeding records of the 2 tooth (shearling) ewes to see how they compare with the up to date post weaning figures of the recorded flock. With performance figures rising year on year, the bar to stay in, or to get in, the recorded flock gets higher each year. The net result of this being 25-30% of the recorded flock is replaced each year.
1st week in November
All rams in with the ewes, which followed by what seemed like 3 weeks of continual rain!
Didn’t seem to bother the rams!
December and January 2024
This time of year sees us at Locks Farm, busy electric fencing to keep the sheep flocks moving forward, doing feed budgets, which at times go well off plan when paddocks get wet under foot. Trying to allocate the best grazing to the most deserving mobs (in lamb ewe lambs), feeding cows and counting silage bales. Much the same I am sure as many of you are doing.
2023 saw ram sales continue to climb. I am always blown away by the clients who come to buy our stock. We are very lucky to be in an industry which seems to have more than its fair share of nice people who are a pleasure to do business with. On the breeding side, since we became independent, we have embarked on a major investment in top NZ genetics.
New Genetics for Locks Farm
2020 saw us import 12 animals, a mix of Wairere, Ngaputahi (Forbes Cameron) and Aoghaire (R & L McCaughan) genetics, and in 2023 we built on this with an additional import of 6 NZ rams. All these rams have been chosen for their very high SIL maternal scores, in fact, the highest we have ever been able to import.
The 2023 consignment is made up of 2 pure New Zealand Texels. One from Cromarty Texels (BG & H J Busby) and the other one from Waikaka Texels (The Paterson Family) These rams will complement the Romtex rams imported from Wairere NZ in 2020 and further push forward our Romtex breeding line. Two high FEC score, pure Romney rams from Pahiwi (Tennent Farming Ltd) which will again compliment the 2020 imports that included rams from Forbes Cameron, one of the leading breeders specialising in FEC in New Zealand.
Two pure Romney rams from Turanganui (Michael Warren). Turanganui is probably one of the most respected Romney breeders in New Zealand.
The genetic gain graphs continue to rise, this reflects the major imports of top animals during recent years. In November 2023, 1071 performance recorded ewes were single sire mated, in addition to 2500 mob mated pure commercial NZ Romney ewes.
Scanning is just around the corner, our 60–90-day window closes on 1st February.
Things are looking very exciting, and we cannot wait for the 2024 lamb crop!
Chris, Caroline and Andy
Cromarty Texels are on Facebook