Season Update The 2019 season has been a tough one for much of the country. Summer dry is the norm so we try to farm accordingly. March tupping is usually challenging as it is often when feed covers are at their lowest and low quality and ewes are often losing weight. Our philosophy is to produce sheep that can handle the conditions without supplement, with ewes on a no drench policy, rebounding quickly after a tough season. The ewes were light going to the ram this yr with 2ths in the mid 50kg range. We did have some much needed rain in March/ April but it was too little and not often enough. Parasite loads and FE were apparent. At 188 % scanning the Stud ewes are back about 10 % this year but with a very pleasing 1% dry rate. Only 1 dry 2th ! The reduced scanning % is less triplets and a few more singles. Very pleased with the result.
Hogget Lambing Hoggets are farmed exclusively on grass. We strongly believe that by successfully mating hoggets on grass we are developing genetics to perform in any environment. This year was a tough for the hoggets but scanning was only slightly back at 143 %. Very pleased with this result. The last 2 years scanning have been over 150 %. We have clients, using top feeding and management, who are achieving consistent hogget scanning rates of over 150%. They are realising the full genetic potential of these sheep. It is a challenge most years getting hogget lambs up to tupping weight by April as they are Sept/Oct born. The only dry hoggets retained in the stud flock are those that are themselves hogget lambs, these must produce twins at their 2th lambing.
Longevity At theother end of the flock are the old ewes. Longevity is highly valued and Nikau has a 'longevity mob' of aged ewes, 6 yrs plus. These are Nikau genetics; commercial ewes with consistent twinning and solid feet, mouths and constitution. An old ewe in this environment is the gold in the flock. She has never been 'on the radar' and has survived and produced through drought, FE, parasites and all the other challenges our areas has. This mob is mated to top Nikau rams with the goal of producing daughters to screen into the stud flock. This is another source of female genetics based on longevity and performance. A select group of rams will be available for sale.
Facial Eczema Tolerance Flock sires are all Facial Eczema (FE) tested at .6mg/kg. FE testing has been done for the past 34 years. Nikau Coopworth is an FE Gold flock, leading genetics for Facial Eczema tolerance.
We also GGT test all ewe and ram hoggets each summer in the face of natural challenge to assess them for FE tolerance. It is very important to be screening out the intolerant females as well as dosing the sires.
GGT is an enzyme released in the blood that is apparent when liver damage has occurred. This gives an indication of an animal’s tolerance to FE. All animals with elevated GGT are culled from the stud flock.
We are farming in a very 'hot' FE area, meaning we see spore counts each autumn. The GGT screening one of the most important tests we do. Screening our ewe flock this way, dosing all flock sires at 0.6mg/kg of sporidesmin and farming in such a challenging area gives us confidence that we have one of the most FE tolerant flocks in the country.
2016 was one of the hottest FE years on record yet many Nikau clients reported higher than average lambing results. With top FE tolerance they were able to take advantage of the good feed available.
SIL ACE Nikau features highly on the SIL ACE DPX list. This index is a assessment of FE tolerance, however the ACE run does not take dose rate into account. Look at the star rating to differentiate flocks testing at different levels. 5 * is the highest level. The new NZGE on SIL shows Nikau genetics to be at the top for health traits, FEC and FE. Selection for over 40 years for a strong immune response has rewarded us with top rankings on SIL with over 1100 flocks in the evaluation.
Sheep Industry Award Winner Nikau Coopworth - Maternal Trait Leader for Parasite Resistance. Nikau has had a strong focus on parasite resistance. The ewe flock as been no drench since 2002. Lambs are on extended drench intervals and selection is based on above average performance with exposure to high parasite challenge.
Rams Selection is based on the use of DNA to assess heritable traits, ultrasound CT muscle scanning, faecal egg counts, GGT testing, frequent weight taking and wool weights.
Rams are sold by auction at the Tuakau Saleyards in early November. They are presented in index order with the first draft having a Reserve Price of $1000. 2nd draft $750, 3rd draft $500.