Huge Performance Increase For Marlborough Farmer
(by Tom Clarke)
Marlborough farmers Moston and Susan Wadsworth are taking off their first draft of lambs in mid-November at around 16 kilos, and have all the lambs off the property by the end of March.
Getting lambs away in November at 15 to 16 kilos means, they can take advantage of meat company premiums for early lambs.
In previous years the first draft wasn't leaving until January at around 13 kilos, and the final draft wasn't going until May.
The Wadsworths farm a 330 hectare property at Northbank wintering around 1500 Romney ewes, 400 hogget replacements and 300 cattle. The vastly improved performance is the result of using Extender drench capsules in the ewes, which they began in 1994.
"The first year, we used the capsules in the ewes a few days before lambing and we noticed at weaning time they were in much better condition, there was a heck of a lot fewer dags, and they were probably five kilos heavier than they had been before," Mr Wadsworth says.
"The lambs grew a lot better too - there was definitely a kilo weight gain in them that year, whereas now we're getting lambs that are a good two kilos heavier."
Extender has dramatically improved the condition and performance of both ewes and lambs, and that is particularly reflected by the ewe hoggets which are now lambing successfully.
Instead of having 30 kilo liveweight ewe lambs in January, they are now achieving 39 plus kilos in November.
"Previously, if we had ewe hoggets going into the winter at 35 kilos we thought we had done pretty well, but last year we had 400 hoggets that were over 40 kilos," he says. "Our ewe lambs are heaps better - we've been able to mate them, so we're getting extra lambs out of them as well.
"Last year our hoggets averaged 42 kilos at mating and scanned 98 percent - we had 400 hoggets rear 350 lambs. So it's all down to liveweight basically."
Getting the lambs away earlier means there is more feed for the cattle, enabling a move from a two and half year beef finishing policy to 18 to 20 month beef finishing, still at similar weights.
When the Wadsworths took over the property 17 years ago they were selling around 800 lambs a year but today they sell about 1500, reflecting the greatly improved lambing percentage, which is now around 130 percent.
Mr Wadsworth sees the capsule as a vital piece of the jigsaw of successful farming, and not as an expense. Last year the lambs were on average 2 kilos per head heavier, which at the contract rate of $4.20 a kilo meant a return of $8.40 on an investment of just over $2 per head.
"I'm more than happy with the economics," he says. "You can farm without capsules, you can farm without scanning and all that, but it just makes the job that much harder and your progress that much slower because you haven't got all the pieces.
"You put all those pieces together to make the big picture, and it makes it a heck of a lot easier."
Three different types of Extender capsules are available each with albendazole as the active ingredient, providing broad-spectrum control of internal parasites for 100 days.
The range is Extender 100; Extender Se which also treats and prevents selenium deficiency in ewes for 210 days and, when treated two to six weeks pre-lamb, also protects unweaned lambs; and Extender SeCo which contains cobalt and selenium treating and preventing selenium deficiency for 120 days and cobalt deficiency (vitamin B12) for 100 days.
For further information, please contact Mike Stephens, marketing manager, Merial New Zealand Ltd, telephone Auckland (09) 980-1600.
Prepared for Merial NZ Ltd by Tom Clarke, Medialink Associates, Auckland (09) 302-3644 (604)
A Merck Sharp & Dohme and Aventis Company. Merial New Zealand Limited, Level 3, Merial Building, Osterley Way, Manukau City, New Zealand. (Extender is a Registered Trademark. Licensed under the Animal Remedies Act 1967 No's. 5910,7827,7905)