Ewe hogget mating concept working well: farm manager

8 December 2012

The idea of using plantain-clover pasture for twin-bearing ewe hoggets is sold on Whangara Farms and they are looking to expand it, says general manager Richard Scholefield.  He made the comments during the plantain field day at the farms this week.  Weaning figures for the farms ewe hoggets will be available next week.

“The docking figures showed the plantain-clover fed ewe hoggets and their lambs at Rototahi were several kilos heavier than their grass fed cousins.  “Overall, the ewe hogget mating concept is working very well, not just on the trial blocks, but with our hoggets on grass as well.”

Whangara Farms had between 5500-6000 ewe hoggets with lambs this season.  “Even our hoggets on grass got up to 53 kilograms at docking across the board, so it is really working well for our business.”  It is definitely going to change the profitability of our sheep, he said.  “It is all about using proper systems and if you feed them high quality stuff then you get a better result.”

The ewe hogget plantain trial was started because of the high percentage of hoggets that scanned twins this season and concerns about how to get their weight back up to two-tooth mating weight.

Rototahi unit manager Chris Ovenden said mating and nurturing behaviour improved also.  “Ewe hoggets are good mothers.”  They were mated with ram hoggets and he said that also worked well.  “I noticed there was not the fighting that happens with older rams. The young fellas just lined up nice and quiet to take their turn.”

Mr Scholefield said he felt the ewe hogget trial and the hill country trial at Pakarae had been really successful so far. “The ME (metabolic energy) for the grass pastures at Pakarae is usually around 8 to 10, whereas the trial pasture, using plaintain-clover-chicory has an ME of 10-13.”  The composition and quality of the pasture has been considerably improved, he said.  “The jury is still out, it is early days, and we will wait and see what lamb weight figures we get off the trial blocks. But it is looking good at this stage.”

Pakarae unit manager Robbie Love said lambs will go on to the blocks in the next week.  “I am hoping the trial pasture mixtures will improve pasture quality in the long term, because the terrain is so hilly and difficult to cultivate.”  So far he said there is some good quality pasture coming through.  “I am picking the lambs going on there will be able to pick up some good weight gains.”  Mr Love said the pasture there now is certainly much more lush and of better quality than would normally be the case at this time of year.