NITHDALE GENETICS

Breeding high performance sheep for 30 years

Amoung the best genetics in New Zealand
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Nithdale Suffolk — SIL Flock 2595

History

Up until 1995 we were using terminal sires over our late ewes, however the studs we were purchasing terminal sires from were not performance recording. So as with the Romneys we decided to do it ourselves. Stud ewes were initially bought from three prominent Suffolk studs in Canterbury, South Canterbury and Southland with more purchases over the next few years.We began using the suffolks in the commercial flock over our older mixed aged ewes (3000 in number) which resulted in lambs being killed off their mothers prior to weaning and at weaning. Our average kill weights increased by up to one kilogram carcase weight and our average kill date came forward by two to three weeks compared to previous years. Again we started to sell surplus rams to a number of our Romney clients and then to others who wanted terminal sires. Early on we started using a Texel over some of the stud Suffolk ewes to increase the meat and the resulting cross proved popular with a number of clients.

In 2004 we became part of a group of Suffolk Breeders called “Premier Suffolks” (now known as the Premier Suftex Group) which has helped us to make further progress through access to a wider genetic base and the use of top rams across the group. In 2005 we began blood testing for the Myomax gene and it was discovered that the two Texel rams we had used in the early days of the stud both had double copies of the Myomax gene. As a result we found that the gene is already quite prevalent amongst the crossbred ewes in the stud. In 2005 we had some enquiries from the UK for Suffolk genetics and we began testing also for Scrapie resistance. Three sires were identified as type one (ARR/ARR) and a number of sires identified as type 2 (ARR/ARQ)..

Who are the Premier Suftex Group?

Premier Suftexs are a group of 9 Suffolk breeders from South Canterbury to Southland who formed a Sire Referencing Group in 2004. In March after all the liveweight 6 and scanning data is loaded onto SIL, an across flock sire summary is generated for all breeders in the group. The group gets together prior to mating, bringing along rams that rank near the top of the group. Rams are then selected that will be used across the group. This allows linkages to be made that improve the accuracy of the across flock analysis as well as all breeders having access to the top sires. The group also gets together at other times to share ideas, discuss breeding objectives and industry issues relevant to the sheep industry. This all helps members of the group to make greater genetic progress within their own studs.

Current Breeding Objectives

Our goal is to produce a black face terminal sire that maximises growth, meat and survival.

We have been selecting rams and ewes to retain on the SIL Terminal Sire Overall (TSO) index. Traits measured are lamb survival, dag score (at 3 months and 8 months of age), weaning weights, liveweight at 6 months of age, eye muscle scan (A, B, C measurements) and the top 20% of ram lambs are CT scanned. All reports now are generated from across flock reports within the Premier Suffolks group. One focus is to continue building on the strength of the Suffolk which is growth rate. This is particularly important as there have been significant premiums on early lambs the last few years which can be taken advantaged of with quick growing lambs. The other main focus is on improving the meat in the Suffolk particularly as payments for yield start to be made by the meat processing companies. We have been doing this by selecting Suffolks based on their meat index as well as introducing the Myomax gene into the Suffolk. Our goal at this stage is to breed a sheep that is predominantly Suffolk (7/8ths or 15/16ths) that has a high index for growth and two copies of the Myomax gene and obviously a high index for meat. The Myomax gene is really a way of fast tracking or “turbo charging” the meat into the Suffolk. With each cross we will be culling all progeny that have no copies of the Myomax gene while retaining progeny that do. This will increase the frequency of the gene within the flock. This will also help those farmers who in the past have been using Suffolk/Texel cross rams which have been leaving white faced progeny that have ended up in the replacement ewe lamb mob. A 7/8th or 15/16 Suffolk will have black faced progeny.

To learn more about the MyoMax gene download the MyoMAX Info Sheet NZ::

Selection of Rams used - Note TSO Index based on Jan 2012 across flock analysis

     

Nithdale 294/10
59% Suffolk, double copy MyoMAX.
TSO Index of 1761.
Top ranked ram in Premier Suftex group.

 

 

 

ND 42/10:
– Double Copy MyoMax ram
– 69% Suffolk
– TSO index of 1125

 

 

 ND 121/10:

- Single MyoMAX ram
– 45% Suffolk Ram
– TSO index of 971

 

Links to ACE Reports:

Download the ACE Terminal Sire Index Report in PDF format