Discovering the right breeds
I should have trusted my gut instincts earlier.
I held onto conventional breeds of livestock far too long, I remember while converting to Organics spending too much money buying top conventional Romney rams from all round NZ. None were any help for producing good organic sheep. There weren't any organic stud stock available in the 1980s.
We found that older rare breeds such as the Wiltshire and White Headed Marsh sheep, and Highland cattle were much more suited to Organics here. I could see they were performing well. They are strong breeds and haven't lost their natural immunity through overuse and dependence on drenches, dips and vaccines. Once we had made the change to organically bred Highland Cattle, Wiltshires and White Headed Marsh Sheep we found the worm, lice and disease problems we thought we had disappeared as we sent away/bred out the conventional breeds (Romney, Hereford etc).
We have found stud sires need to be strong old breeds, bred organically, to be any real use on an Organic farm.
Organicstud® demand was originally solely from other Organic farmers converting and a few conventional farmers that had stuck with us when we went organic. Now much of the demand comes from large organic farms and many conventional farms interested in reducing costs, reducing workload, getting away from using chemicals, drench and dip, and improving the natural immunity and hardiness in their stock. We enjoy getting feedback on the improvements in other farmers’ stock and easier farming lifestyle.
We have run many recorded sheep studs starting in 1980 with the Mangapiri Romney stud. With going organic my breeding emphasis changed to breeding organic rams for vitality and natural immunity to disease and parasites. After trying 10 breeds of sheep over the years (including Romneys, Finns, Lincolns, Romlincs, Perendales and Texels) our favourite was the Wiltshire.
We have been developing a new strain of Wiltshire that have never been shorn & stay hair covered all year round. We named them and registered the trademark SHIRE®, our number one favourite organic sheep breed for farmers who want very easy-care meat production.