What an amazing winter we have had! I can remember back 60 years and cannot recall any winter so mild and storm and frost free. Ideal for all parasites and fungi to winter over and be in a strong position to be a problem over the summer and autumn months.
My father believed the seasons followed cycles. For instance, virtually every summer over the 1950’s was excessively wet, followed by wet winters where pugging was a major.
This year’s sale rams With a larger drop of lambs last year and fewer autumn/winter deaths from pneumonia and Yersinia, we have more rams to select from. Starting with over 400, we are now down to around 160 hopefuls, but there will be further culling for the likes of feet, teeth etc, and the vet always finds a few testicle abnormalities. Although I always have a problem getting the hoggets to an acceptable body weight, the feedback I am receiving from clients is that they ‘grow out’ to be the equal in size and body weight to comparable rams from other breeders in spite of the fact that they may be 20 kilograms at the point of sale. At least clients know that they have been subjected to considerable pressure at Kikitangeo.
As usual, we will finish up with 100-120 rams for auction. Overall, I am delighted with the quality, especially the quality and style of the wool. There are potentially a number of rams suitable for stud sires.
This year’s sale is scheduled for Wednesday, 4th December commencing at 12 noon.
Pneumonia Commonly known as viral pneumonia, this disease is a common problem throughout New Zealand. Like many other health and parasite problems, pneumonia is most severe in hot humid environments, and as you move south, it is a much lesser issue. Indeed, in most South Island areas, it is relatively benign with perhaps only a pause in growth. Deaths from this disease on my property generally average between 4% and 5% - much less this year. Trials in the north of Auckland region have shown up to 95% of lambs slaughtered in April-May show some lung damage. In my worst year some decades ago, we lost 10% of lambs over the late summer/autumn period.
I always believed that there was a genetic factor to this disease. I proved this to my own satisfaction about 15 years ago when I kept a record of all lamb deaths – over the February/April period – and those that had to have antibiotics in an endeavour to keep them alive (AB treatment when the early symptoms appear has proved very effective). When these dead and AB treated animals were put into their sire groups, there was a very noticeable difference between sires, and incidentally my most worm resistant sire also had less affected progeny. Over the past decade or so, any sires selected for the stud had to have shown no effects of pneumonia over the critical late summer/autumn period. Over recent years, this disease has appeared to be less severe and I believe that a degree of resistance is being bred into the flock.
Dr Jon Hickford, a leading scientist at Lincoln, and his team, have now proved that there is a genetic factor in pneumonia. The lungs of the progeny of many sires were examined at slaughter to assess the damage caused by pneumonia. Their findings showed that the progeny of some sires were more susceptible to this disease. Bear in mind that this was in Canterbury where this disease is not the killer that it is in the warmer regions of the country.
Leading the field in worm resistance In the national SIL - ACE rankings for worm resistance, Kikitangeo sires gained the top five placings. More than 50 ram breeders have about 1,000 sires in this assessment. It covers many breeds and breed combinations. It is interesting to note that the Nithdale Stud of Andrew Tripp in Southland was given credit for being a leader in the field of worm resistance in a recent article in the Farmers Weekly. However, I note in the SIL – ACE ranking for ‘worm FEC’ Andrew’s top ranking rams were ranked 24th, 26th and 30th. Kikitangeo by contrast not only had the top 5 placings, but 10 rams in the top 21.
Scotch Thistle Gall Fly About 15 years ago, the local monitor farm group – led by the late Mr John Foster – took the initiative and introduced an insect to control Scotch Thistles. As we made a contribution towards to original costs, a release of these gall flies as made at Kikitangeo. The fly – about half the size of a housefly – lays eggs on the forming flower heads of the thistle. On hatching the grubs burrow into the seed head and devour the seed. The net result after more than 10 years is that there are far fewer seeds around and the actual thistle numbers are considerably less. If you are interested, I will have a display of thistle heads affected by this parasite at my sale. Hopefully there will be some thistles with these bugs available for you to introduce to your property.
Finally, if you have any problems with the rams that you have purchased at Kikitangeo, please let me know.
Look forward to seeing you at our sale in December.