Thursday, 23 November 2017 08:55

Show launch for latest sheep breed

Written by  Nigel Malthus
Purebred Beltex lambs (with their Perendale surrogate mothers) show off their heavy rear ends in the yards at Blair Gallagher’s Mount Somers farm. The ram lambs’ tails have been left undocked, standard English practice for the breed. Inset: Mount Somers farmer Blair Gallagher has formed a partnership to bring Beltex sheep to NZ. Purebred Beltex lambs (with their Perendale surrogate mothers) show off their heavy rear ends in the yards at Blair Gallagher’s Mount Somers farm. The ram lambs’ tails have been left undocked, standard English practice for the breed. Inset: Mount Somers farmer Blair Gallagher has formed a partnership to bring Beltex sheep to NZ.

New Zealand has a new sheep breed, shown last week at the Canterbury A&P Show.

The Beltex, or Belgian Texel, has been farmed for about 18 years in the UK, where it is prized for its notably heavy hind-quarters and high meat yield.

Bringing it to New Zealand is the BeltexNZ partnership -- Mount Somers farmer Blair Gallagher, former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison, and farm advisor John Tavendale.

Gallagher says they first looked at bringing the breed here about ten years ago but quarantine and other requirements made it prohibitively expensive. Changed protocols now make it practical, but still expensive.

Imported Beltex embryos and semen have been introduced into the Perendale, Suffolk and Poll Dorset flocks on Gallagher’s Rangiatea farm, near Mount Somers in Mid-Canterbury.

The first lambs were born in early August and Gallagher now has 55 from five different sires. He admits they did not have a “brilliant” take on embryo implantation, achieving only 37% when hoping for 50%.

So they went back to the UK to get more semen and embryos from another three studs – two unrelated sires each – to further spread the genetic base.

“Hopefully we won’t have to go back again because it’s a pretty good way of emptying your bank account,” Gallagher jokes.

He believes that as a meat breed the real potential lies in using Beltex terminal sires through NZ flocks to lift the quality of carcase conformation and meat yield.

While traditional breeds give kill-out percentages of 42 - 43% (Texel achieved closer to 46%), pure Beltex gives up to 58%.

“The half-crosses won’t be as good as the pure-bred, but the poll Dorset or the Suffolk cross will be closer to 52%. So there’s a huge lift in yield and that’s the real potential of the Beltex.”

UK meat companies are prepared to pay a 10-15% premium for Beltex cross lambs, Gallagher told Rural News.

He took 16 animals to the Canterbury Show last week, including four pure-bred Beltex lambs born to surrogate mothers from embryo implants, some AI crossbred lambs and their mothers.

Although the animals were not entered in competition classes, Gallagher expected the display at the show to attract a lot of interest.

The Beltex is believed to be the first new sheep breed brought to New Zealand since the Charollais about a decade ago.

“It’s a million-dollar project over two years, but I can see real benefits for the greater NZ sheep industry. There’s a huge amount of interest in what we’re doing.”

More like this

Future-proofing NZ's sheep

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics' Low Input Sheep Progeny Trial is identifying the genetics that will future-proof this country's sheep industry.

Drenching - doing it right

Effective and accurate drenching is important for animal health and productivity. It needs strategic decision making and should be part of a parasite management plan.

Shedding Wiltshire's anti wool appeal

Of all the projects Massey University's School of Agriculture has been involved in over the years, it's never had such interest as it has in its Wiltshire breeding programme.

Trial for low methane sheep

Artificial breeding will play a role in accelerating the transition of a proportion of Beef + Lamb New Zealand's (B+LNZ) commercial ewe flock to a low methane emitting flock.

Sheep and dairy numbers fall

Climate change activists, who believe NZ is going to hell in a handcart due to the methane emissions from the country's livestock population, will be delighted to learn that these numbers have fallen dramatically.

National

Industry reacts to UK FTA

Primary industries stakeholders  are welcoming the new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom announced today.

Historic FTA deal struck

Comprehensive, inclusive and high quality and providing fantastic opportunities for our exporters.

Tatua smashes $10 barrier

Waikato milk processor Tatua says keeping products moving to overseas customers during the pandemic was one of the highlights of…

Machinery & Products

Robo planter on the way

German farm machinery manufacturer Horsch says it is at an advanced stage of developing its aptly named Robo autonomous planter.

Keeping everyone safe

As tractors get larger and front linkage kits become more common, many have started fitting underrun or collision protection systems.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Flag it!

OPINION: Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O'Connor tried to keep his latest overseas jaunt secret squirrel.

Oh dear!

OPINION: This old mutt suggests that farmers' growing discontent with Beef+Lamb NZ's performance is going to reach fever peak after…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter