Corriedale breeders set sights on Amberley

North Canterbury farmer Andrew Sidey and his son Harry (then 9) were thrilled to win a golden...
North Canterbury farmer Andrew Sidey and his son Harry (then 9) were thrilled to win a golden ribbon for the premier Corriedale ram hogget at last year’s New Zealand Agricultural Show. PHOTO: CENTRAL RURAL LIFE FILES
Record sheep entries are set to flock into the Amberley Domain.

With the New Zealand Agricultural Show cancelled, the New Zealand Corriedale Council has turned its attention to the Amberley A&P Show on Saturday, October 31.

"This is going to be our Christchurch show for the Corriedale. It will be our biggest show of the year, without the Christchurch show being on, and the breeders have really got on board," New Zealand Corriedale Council president Mark Sidey said.

More than 80 Corriedale entries were expected, including the ewe hogget and ram hogget production classes, which were normally decided at the New Zealand Agricultural Show.

The ewe hogget production class has been running for more than 30 years.

"The sheep are grazed on one person’s property from January until now and they are judged on production, scanning and wool value and there are three or four different judges doing the different categories," Mr Sidey said.

While the ewe hogget judging included eye muscle scans, CT scans would be taken for the ram hoggets.

Judging will be completed for the two classes beforehand and the winning entries and the fleeces will be on display at the show.

Returns for the mid-micron Corriedale wool had been "unprecedented" in recent years, most farmers targeting 25 to 29 microns from the dual-purpose sheep breed, Mr Sidey said.

"It’s taken a hit this year with Covid, but 12 months ago we were getting prices we’ve never had before. We were getting $12 clean or higher for some of our wool."

A fourth-generation Corriedale breeder, Mr Sidey farms 270ha just up the road from Amberley in Waipara, running 2000 Corriedale ewes, including 370 stud ewes.

"We target the early lamb market and we use Southdown rams over more than half of the ewes. Around 95% of our lambs will have left by early December."

The remainder of the ewes were mated with Sidey Corriedale rams, with lambing in late July or early August.

"It’s a dryland, low-input and low-cost operation and we get good returns. The Corriedales love the dry weather, which is why we farm them in North Canterbury. It’s what everyone should be doing."

While he was helping judge the ewe hogget production class, he had entered two ram hoggets in the production class and was entering another six rams in the show.

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