Hogget lambing an award-winning practice
Glenham farmers Peter and Carole Bee started lambing their hoggets to make sheep farming more profitable.
More than 10 years on they're still a strong advocate of the practice.
"They give us that extra income.
"It also gives the hogget a chance to prove herself as a mother," Carole Bee said.
The Bees' coopworth-texel hoggets, which have a touch of poll dorset, are thriving on their lease block at Menzies Ferry and it's easy to see why they won the composite section in the 2014 New Zealand Ewe Hogget competition.
Peter Bee is a fan of the texel breed and he believes sheep need some texel influence in order for their progeny to yield and grade well.
The Bees farm 2100 coopworth- texel ewes, 570 ewe hogget replacements and about 60 trading cattle on a combined 230 hectares, which includes two small lease blocks.
The ewes are farmed on their 160ha home block at Glenham where they run a split flock - an A mob and a B mob.
The A mob is made up of the better ewes which are mated back to a stabilised coopworth-texel ram to produce replacements while the B mob is mated to terminal sire rams.
Since switching to the coopworth-texels about six years ago the Bees were now lambing an average 146 per cent, although it has been as high as 162 per cent, and scanning about 194 per cent.
The hoggets were lambing about 90 per cent and scanning about 120 per cent.
"We only go around our hoggets once a day on our lease block.
"We don't over-shepherd them," Peter Bee said.
The Bees select their replacement ewe lambs on size and conformation and they also use the expertise of their consultant Guy Martin.
"I could do it by myself, but it's great to get a second opinion."
While the Bees like every hogget to produce a lamb they still keep the dry hoggets. The ewe lambs are shorn in early January and the following month they head to the 40ha Menzies Ferry lease block where they will lamb before going home the following February.
The Bees aim to have the hoggets at an average 50kg at mating in early May when they go to cheviot-texel or cheviot-south suffolk rams. The cheviot influence is a key factor in ensuring the hoggets lamb easily.
The Bees source their coopworth-texel rams, also known as Wharetoa Maternals, from Clydevale farmer Garth Shaw.
Most of the lambs are finished at an average 19.5kg carcass weight although the hogget lambs are usually finished at around 20kgcw.
The lambs were currently yielding an average 55 per cent.
Peter Bee said he was talked into entering the ewe hogget competition and he was glad he put his hoggets forward for scrutiny.
His goal was to achieve 400 kilograms of meat a hectare.
To achieve this he would need to consistently achieve 160 per cent lambing in his ewes and 100 per cent in his hoggets and finish all his lambs at 20kgcw.
"I will be pretty happy then."
Palmerston farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht are the overall winners of the 2014 New Zealand Ewe Hogget competition.
The East Otago couple, who farm a coopdale (coopworth- perendale) ewe flock and won the crossbred section of the competition, took out the main award at an awards ceremony in Queenstown on May 30.
The Engelbrechts farm about 3200 coopdale ewes and 800 ewe hogget replacements and finish a large number of store lambs and cattle on two properties totalling 790 hectares.
The other finalists in the ewe hogget competition were Peter and Carole Bee (composite) from Glenham; Craig and Trish Sinclair (romney) from Hastings; David and Lisa Anderson (fine wools) from Omarama; and Mark and Nicki Giles (perendale) from Kurow.
During the awards ceremony each of the finalists had to give a short presentation on their farming operations.
The Engelbrechts are expected to host a field day on their property this winter.
The Southland Times