During the history of Glenlands farm we have realised the need to change not only stock class but also our systems. These changes have been made to not only improve the farm financially but to improve soils, stock welfare etc. In 2019 we started the move from wool sheep to shedding sheep. Over the past couple of decades wool prices have significantly decreased but labour unit costs, e.g. shearing expenses, treatment for fly etc, has increased dramatically making wool unprofitable. Other inputs that we needed to reduce included treatments and costs to animal welfare due to wool. We wanted to spend more time on grazing management and our ecological systems rather than animal remedies, e.g. dips, drenches, dagging, mineral supplements. These are all external costs that can be reduced and eliminated if soils and ecological systems are working efficiently. We started with Wiltshire sheep and are crossing these this season with Australian Whites to improve pre-Christmas growth rates and increase our percentage of lambs killable before Christmas, therefore maximising our financial gains as well as reducing stock numbers before the summer dry. We are also in negotiations with another breeder to add another shedding sheep breed to this mix – keep an eye out for future developments on this.
Wiltshire sheep are a large white-faced sheep that shed their wool naturally (normally in the spring). They have no wool on their heads, bellies, legs or around the perineal region. All these regions are covered in short white hair. The underside of the tail is bare skin. The Wiltshire’s are also known for their high fertility. Ewes make excellent mothers.
We have had success with the Wiltshire Sheep and Lambs except the lamb growth rate has been slow compared to our Texel cross lambs. For this reason, we decided to investigate other options for shedding sheep.
Australian White Shedding Sheep:
In 2020 we implanted 20 embryos into 20 of our Texel cross ewes, and even through the summer drought of 2020 we had a 50% success rate – 10 lambs on the ground. 6 rams and 4 ewes.
One of the opportunities that we see with this breed is that it is an Aseasonal breed, i.e. they will breed anytime of the year. In Australia they have been used to breed three times in two years as well as two times in one year.
The breed was developed in Australia and known there as Australian Whites, to be a self-replacing, haired (no fleece) meat sheep that requires minimal maintenance. A composite breed consisting of four types of sheep, Poll Dorset, Texel, White Dorper and Van Rooy. The four types were chosen for the traits they could bring to the breed.
The breed has only recently been introduced to New Zealand primarily through embryos from registered flocks of AWSB Ass.
They are called ‘Whites’ because they are bright white in colouring, especially as lambs.
- High yielding. Fast growing.
- Low maintenance.
- No shearing.
- Clean hair shedding.
- Thick skinned.
- Minimal to fly or lice risk.
- Mostly black feet. Their feet yet to be fully assessed in New Zealand conditions.
- Naturally bare breached.
- Can withstand environments from snow to outback heat.
- Excellent mothering
- Very fertile
- The ability to lamb three times in two years.
- Longevity of ewes maintaining good udders.
- Very even in type
- Quiet temperament, placid.
Australian Whites have now been registered as a sheep breed in NZ with NZ Sheep Breeders Association and are called Australian Whites NZ. Breeders including breed description etc can be found on the NZ Sheep Breeders Association website in due course and will be available in this year’s coming flock book.
We will be looking at holding a field day late in 2021. Please contact us if you would like further updates on this field day – firstname.lastname@example.org
We will have on display the Australian Whites as well as Australian White / Wiltshire cross lambs. We may even have a new breed exclusive to NZ for you to look at – further information will be given on this as we progress with this exciting opportunity.
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