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Sheep Unit

Breeding for the Future

Wilkins Farming Ltd’s sheep breeding and finishing is one of their longest standing core enterprises. They breed crossbreeds for replacements and the surplus is supplied to prime meat markets.

Breeding

In the late seventies Wilkins Farming used Coopworth genetics which they stayed with through the eighties. This lifted fertility to a point where they consistantly tailed 140-155%, though they felt lamb growth rates were being neglected. These Coopworth genetics were purchased from Lockie Stevens originally, then Ron Cocks at Alford Park in Mid Canterbury.

WFL then decided that they needed to lift their performance to another level. While they were satisified with fertility and mothering ability, they needed better growth rates. Ron gave us the option of breeding from his new cross which he called Friworth, an East Freisian Coopworth cross. This gave them an immediate lift in growth rates through the extra milking ability. The EF genetics provided improved growth rates, and lambs to slaughter at weaning improved.

The use of East Fresians in the early 1990s gave WFL another boost in fertility. At this point they started to pregnancy test ewes and found the EF helped lift the flock scanning percentage from the high 180%s to 200-210%. While they had a good top end percentage of quality lamb, the high scanning percentage was comprised of many smaller triplets which had a negative impact on surviveability.

At this point WFL identified the Texel as an ideal breed to build their own composite targeting survivability and less triplets. They have since stabilised between Texel and Coopworth to achieve their sheep breeding goals, targeting the following traits.

 

  • Efficacy
  • Survivability
  • Mothering ability
  • Carcass quality

 

WFL currently source sires from Curthew Coopworths and the Blackdale Stud.

Finishing

Wilkins Farming pride themselves on their ability to produce five star prime lambs for their export partners year round. This includes lambs bred on-farm and store lambs finished on-farm bought in from other breeding units.e.

Terminals

Wilkins Farmimg Ltd currently uses Poll Dorset and Texels as their main terminal sires. Further details will show here shortly.

Sheep Gallery