Hamish Jopp (left) and Colin Wallace prepare to send merino
rams to Argentina from Moutere Station near Alexandra.
Photo by Peter McIntosh.
It's a long way from Alexandra to Argentina.
But a consignment of 10 merino rams, from the Jopp family's
Moutere Station, in Central Otago, has made the journey.
The Moutere merino stud's relationship with a farming
operation in Patagonia, which covers two large properties,
began in 1999 when two rams were exported.
Another four were sent in 2006 and six more in 2010. This
year's consignment is the largest to have been sent.
Tony Jopp said it was ''pretty unusual'' for New Zealand
merinos to be exported to South America.
The year after the initial Moutere purchase, the South
American purchasers were looking for a wool-classer from New
Zealand and Colin Wallace, now retired in Alexandra, started
classing over there.
Mr Wallace, who was awarded the Heather Perriam Memorial
Trophy for services to the merino industry, at the Otago
Merino Association's merino excellence awards last year, saw
first-hand the impact of the Moutere sires on the flock.
While the sheep were good initially, the Moutere injection
had made an ''amazing'' difference when it came to improving
the quality of the wool, particularly the crimp and staple
Among the thousands of fleeces coming across the table, as
soon as Moutere progeny came along, he was ''guaranteed 99%
of the time'' to get it right, he said.
The Argentinian relationship was particularly special given
the connection of Mr Wallace and the feedback that they got
back, Mr Jopp said.
''When he says the wool has improved, that's good enough for
us,'' he said.
This year's order comprised both 1 and 2-year-old fine
combing rams, between 18 and 19 micron.
There were a lot of procedures to be followed, including the
rams being kept in quarantine, before Mr Jopp loaded them on
to a trailer early last Thursday and drove to Christchurch
The rams then flew, in a crate, to Auckland, followed by a
13-hour flight to Santiago, then on to Buenos Aires and
finally a flight in a single-engine Cessna to Patagonia.
The typography of their new home was not dissimilar to the
Mackenzie Basin and there were extremes of climate, with
frozen streams a problem in winter, Mr Wallace said.
Moutere Station celebrated a century of merino breeding in