The Poplars Farm
Newsletter Update 2021
Hello and welcome to our first annual newsletter! We have decided to start this to help summarise what we’ve done over the year and what we’re aiming to do into the future. Just in case you don’t know our story, I’ll do a brief overview…
We are situated in the sheltered Kirikau Valley, south west of Taumarunui. The property is family owned and operates 330 ha of sheep, beef and forestry. The family consists of Robert & Suzanne Carter, Travis (me) and my other half Julie. The property was purchased in 1988 and the Coopworth recorded flock was brought onto the property and kicked into gear. The recorded flock was operated by Robert and Suzanne to produce rams for their own use and to stay ahead of the game in terms of overcoming challenges. One of those challenges was a significant FE challenge in 1992, which gave a lot of direction in what to really start focusing on!
Since overcoming that hurdle and becoming FE Gold, we’ve continued to focus on the typical traits (reproduction, growth, phenotype etc) and have then really started to push the Meat index in our flock. This means adding another analysis tool of muscle scanning all rams, which has allowed us to make informed decisions. This also prompted us to start breeding Beltex crosses with the purchase of semen straws from Mt Somers. I will not go into detail now, but overall they have brought some exceptional traits to the gene pool.
Along with these traits, we have continuously worked on all of the commercial and recorded flock in terms of internal and external parasites, using the old equation genotype + environment = phenotype. We run our commercial and stud ewes under commercial pressure this allows us to identify and tag any poor performers for our rigorous culling system. This allowed us to confidently stop drenching all ewes over 10 years ago and stop dipping 3 years ago. To make the most of this advantage, we have been drenching all recorded hoggets at weaning (to give them an equal chance) and then leaving them for an extended time of 8+ weeks (weekly FEC sampling to monitor burden) and generally treat them like 2nd class citizens to identify the animals which can still perform under some pretty testing conditions.
The BLNZ Low Input progeny trial has really given some guidance and a NZ recognisable term for what we are trying to achieve. Some of the other Coopworth breeders have done very well in this trial, and with our Coopworth Genetics collaborative effort, it shows we are working on identifying and improving these future proofing traits.
Which brings us to our sale day in Te Kuiti! We were finding that our on-farm sales were underperforming and that we just weren’t getting out into the customers eye, so Suzanne suggested we have a go at a sale day in Te Kuiti. Cam Heggie of Wrightsons Livestock helped us a lot in what we needed to do and what his expectations were for it to work out. The day was a success and we have decided to continue with this strategy for the foreseeable future!
Here are some key points of our year:
• Started measuring tail length and bareness at docking
• Purchased 50 recorded ewes from John Mills of Tautari, with excellent FEC abilities and excel in the low input traits we are looking for, Thank you John!
• Tagged 297 lambs from 182 ewes this spring (2021 progeny)
• Evaluated all our recorded hoggets for Greenhouse gas output with the PAC trailer
• Travelled to Timaru for the annual Coopworth Genetics AGM, which was planned to coincide with the BLNZ low input field day
• FE tested a cohort of the rams at 0.62 mg/kg, with only 1 slight (by 1 point!)
Sires used for 2020 mating:
• 293/16 - A sire from Nikau Coopworth which is FE Gold & Worm FEC Gold accredited. He has been extensively used amongst top Coopworth breeders which has given him a proven MW+M.
• 1542/18 - A Kirikau Coopworth ram. Our highest indexed sire to date, FE tested nil at 0.6mg/ kg, with best phenotypical traits.
• 1374/18 - A Kirikau Coopworth/Beltex cross. An exceptionally meaty animal with excellent growth scores. Dam was AI’d full Coopworth and sire from Beltex NZ Mt. Somers.
Sires used for 2021 mating (next years available rams):
• 379/19 - from Marlow Genetics. Overall selected as Coopworth Genetics top ram at this years Ovine Sire Reference (OSR) day. FE Gold breeder.
• 370/18 - from Nikau Coopworths. Excellent all rounder with top structure. FE Gold & WormFEC Gold breeder.
• 1328/19 Kirikau Coopworths top selected ram for this year.
• 1542/18 Kirikau Coopworths top 2018 ram which was used on Nikau Coopworths this year. He was then used at home to act a as reference ram.
• 1396/18 Kirikau Coopworths top Beltex cross ram. Used on all Kirikau Coopworths Beltex X ladies. If you have any questions or are wanting to have a chat please feel free to get in touch we would love to hear from you.