A Perendale progeny test has been extended, with more
traits added to the measurements. Photo by Newhaven
Warren Ayers believes Perendale New Zealand's progeny
test will lead to the betterment of the breed.
Now in its fourth year, the test has been extended, with
facial eczema and maternal traits, including body condition
scoring and ewe longevity, added to the measurements.
Guided by a Perendale genetics group, the society is working
with AgResearch and Ovita, with Beef and Lamb New Zealand
Mr Ayers has taken over as host farm for the South Island
portion of the progeny test, while a property at Tutira in
Hawkes Bay is also involved.
Mr Ayers farms 10km east of Wyndham, running 6300 Perendale
ewes, 120 Angus cows and wintering about 650 dairy cows on
the 888ha property.
The progeny test involved single-sire mating 800-odd
commercial ewes on the property to eight rams.
The ewes were left unshepherded at lambing time - ''That's
what I do here, I don't get too serious about lambing at
all'' - and the lambs were then tailed in mid-September and
tagged in sire groups.
Since then, the gates had been opened, allowing them to
mingle, so there was no paddock influence. Weaning was
scheduled for the week before Christmas.
Like most sheep breeds, a huge amount of progress had been
made in the Perendale breed since his father first started
converting to the breed in the early 1970s, he said.
Perendales were first bred by Sir Geoffrey Peren at Massey
University in 1956 by crossing a Cheviot over a Romney. The
Perendale Sheep Society was formed in 1959.
Mr Ayers, who is also Southland councillor for the society,
was excited about the potential of the progeny test and the
identification of the best performing genetics.
He believed the breed was in good heart, with an enthusiastic
group of breeders throughout the country.
AgResearch genomics scientist Dr Tricia Johnson said it took
time for progeny trials to accumulate sufficient progeny
numbers to the stage that maternal trait measurements were
''We are now at that point and are producing accurate
information on the genetics of maternal productive
''Adding further selection criteria to the base
infrastructure now means we can leverage the resource and
fully exploit research opportunities,'' Dr Johnson said.
While the data was not going to necessarily produce ''one
magic super-sire'', it was identifying genetically superior
dual-purpose sires with emphasis on meat production, disease
resistance and maternal traits, she said.
The longer-term focus was to ensure the sheep were tailored
to farming in hill and high country environments, off the
Science and farmers working together on issues that affected
long-term productivity and profitability was vital, she said.
Progeny trial chairman Howie Gardner, who farms in South
Otago, said the work was being done to provide facts and
figures on animal genetics, taking the ''guesswork'' out of
''Extending the trial into further maternal productive traits
and facial eczema is a significant move for us - we think it
will help us make a real difference in the sheep industry,''
Mr Gardner said.
Perendales were recognised as an animal with good maternal
traits that consistently did well under pressure and were
particularly resilient to New Zealand challenges such as snow
''Anecdotally, farmers have told us they're hardy performers
which bounce back very quickly, but a focus on a maternal
trait data will ensure that there is verification to back the
claims,'' he said.