Wednesday, 22 April 2020 10:24

Getting hoggets ready for breeding

Written by  Paul Kenyon,
When considering to breed their hoggets farmers need to consider what the likely feed availability is going to be on their farm in winter. When considering to breed their hoggets farmers need to consider what the likely feed availability is going to be on their farm in winter.

While breeding hoggets can potentially increase the number of lambs weaned and income – it needs to be well managed to be successful.

Breeding of hoggets for many farmers will begin in late April early May. Now is the time to consider which and how many hoggets to breed. There are two basic rules. 

Firstly, they need to be at least 65% of their mature weight, which is basically their four-tooth breeding weight – if high levels of performance are to be achieved as a hogget and lifetime performance not negatively affected. An alternative means of identifying suitable hoggets is only breeding those with a body condition score of 2.5 or above. 

Secondly, farmers need to consider what the likely feed availability is going to be on their farm in winter. That’s about accessing covers now, in some regions these may be low due to dry conditions and trying their best to predict covers in the winter. Remember the pregnant hogget is a class of stock that needs to be well fed throughout winter. 

Although the temptation may be there to breed many hoggets this year, with the aim of obtaining high lamb prices. However, farmers – in general – should be conservative when deciding how many hoggets should be bred, especially if covers are low. 

Using vasectomised rams (teasers) can increase the proportion of hoggets bred and those bred early in the breeding period. Teasers should be introduced 17 days prior to the first day of breeding. A minimum ratio of 1:100 is required to be fully effective. Hoggets are shy breeders therefore, an ideal ram to hogget ratio is 1:50 with mature rams. Use rams that are not likely to result in large lambs, which would increase the risk of birthing difficulties. Hoggets should be vaccinated to provide protection against abortive diseases. 

When planning feeding levels for hoggets remember they need to be gaining approximately 130g/day throughout pregnancy to ensure they continue to grow and to meet pregnancy requirements. Failure to achieve this will result in disappointing results this spring and at the following two-tooth breeding. 

The Massey University team, with funding from B+LNZ are currently examining the potential impacts of selecting progeny born from hoggets as replacement ewes. 

• Paul Kenyon is a professor in sheep husbandry and deputy head of the agriculture & environment school at Massey University

More like this

An ode to the ‘beloved’ sheep yards

When 14-year-old Lincoln High School student Rosa Macaulay was asked to write story about her favourite room, instead of choosing her bedroom like most 14-year-old girls, she chose her grandfather’s sheep yards. 

Featured

Merlo goes greener

Obviously not wishing to get left behind by some of its competitors, Italian manufacturer Merlo is planning to add to its green-liveried telehandler range- with another set of green credentials in the shape of an all-new, all-electric battery-powered Merlo e-Worker model.

 

Growing a family legacy

What started with planting some acacia trees 25 years ago has become a multi-generational passion for the Hunt family in Te Awamutu.

Moves to improve winter grazing requirements

DairyNZ says it supports recommendations to the Government from an advisory group looking to improve winter grazing rules for farmers and achieve better environmental outcomes.

National

Machinery & Products

Good growth year for Claas

While many sectors of the agricultural machinery were hit by the ravages of Covid-19, the effects of the pandemic did…

Green machine frugal on fuel

According to the industry respected independent DLG PowerMix test, John Deere appears to be the best choice of tractor for…

App takes pressure off

TRS Tyre & Wheel, owned by Trelleborg Wheel Systems, has introduced the TLC Plus App to the New Zealand market.

New MF 5S series arrives

Just before Christmas, Massey Ferguson quietly released details of the successor to its popular MF 5700S range in the shape…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Seriously?

Your old mate reckons the nomination of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) management team as a finalists in…

Good riddance!

The Hound reckons 2021 is off to a rollicking start with news that professional whinger and anti-farming drone Martin Taylor…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter