End of an era as breeders downsize and head to town
Steph Holloway and Hamish Hawker are getting out of their breeding farm at Hunterville, after a long family association with the property.
Five generations of Holloway's family, including her, have worked on the hill country farm.
She said she and Hawker sold 600 two-tooth ewes at last week's Feilding ewe fair. A further 1300 mixed-age ewes were sold at the sale on Friday.
Holloway said that while they could stay on the farm until May, they were already looking for a smaller finishing farm closer to town.
"Our breeding unit was 800 acres [324 hectares], and it was 50 minutes to Feilding, where I work. We want 200 acres [80ha], and it will mean a day or two a week on the farm."
The couple have three small children, and they hope one will be interested in a smaller unit.
Holloway and Hawker said they were selling and shifting for the sake of their children, as the move would open up options for them.
Meanwhile, David and Pam Smith topped Thursday's two-tooth ewe fair, with romney ewes from their Hunterville property, Holly Farm, in demand.
Buyers paid $156 per sheep. "They were well-bred sheep. We have a stud, so there is lots of recording and research done," said David Smith.
However, he said many farmers would be disappointed with the prices they got for young breeding ewes, which ranged from $111 to $156.
"There was thought to be a shortage of ewes because of the drought. And people were forced to sell. I don't think the hill country farmers have got the money to pay more.
"The farmers who bred many of these sheep are disappointed, with many saying they could have killed them six months ago for almost the same money they got at the sale."