Huge Jump In High Country Production
(by Tom Clarke)
North Otago Merino breeder Geoff Bishop bumped up his lambing by 15 percent and took an extra half a kilo of wool from his 13,500 superfine merinos when he switched to Ivomec Maximizer drench capsules.
Mr Bishop who runs the 3,500 hectare Mt Otekaike Station in the Waitaki Valley, is one of New Zealand's top superfine woolgrowers. He held the record price of $210 a kilo for superfine wool for 12 years.
He first began using Maximizer in a small mob of ewes three years ago, and the results encouraged him to switch completely to the capsule.
Mr Bishop says the results were impressive. His ewes were an estimated 10 kilos heavier than previously, his lambing percentage shot up and so did his wool clip.
"Straight away, the first year we used it, the lambing percent went up 15 percent, we shore half a kilo more wool per head, and we've maintained that increased performance ever since," he says.
"The ewes didn't look any different but they were a lot heavier. You didn't realise it till you handled them, then they were just like lead. We killed merino hoggets off-shears in October at over 40 kilos which we would never have achieved without the capsules, remembering that these are superfine merinos which aren't big sheep."
Mr Bishop attributes the higher lambing percentage to the heavier and healthier ewes.
"Fine wool Merino lambs are notoriously feeble when they're born and it doesn't take much cold weather to tip them over," he says. "But ewes with capsules in them produce lambs that are a lot heavier, so the survival rate goes up a hell of a lot."
Before, he was orally drenching lambs monthly from weaning right through till spring, twice more after they were shorn, and then they went onto an adult programme of drenching once or twice a year depending on the season. But now the lambs get an oral drench at weaning and a month later they are given a capsule, and they don't come back near the yards again till shearing.
Even in this year's drought when the lambs were put on irrigated feed, they remained clean and healthy, and still didn't need crutching. Mr Bishop says that couldn't be done without the capsules.
"On that sort of tucker and with these sheep you'd be drenching them every fortnight and you still couldn't control them," he says.
Mr Bishop believes Maximizer has also reduced the level of flystrike, an important plus when he is trying to avoid dipping.
"I try to avoid dipping because of residue in the wool, so last year and this year we haven't dipped the lambs at all," he says. "People would say this year they were dipping and dipping but we never dipped, we never crutched the lambs and we had just about no flystrike at all. There might have been one or two, but near enough to nothing."
As well as sharply higher production the capsules keep the stock clean and healthy, save an extraordinary amount of work and costs, keep pastures clean and produce big savings.
"I've never tried to quantify the capsule in terms of dollars, but it's a big saving - the extra wool alone more than paid for the cost of the capsules, with the extra lambs being a sheer bonus," he says. "We're totally rapt in the things, and I won't run without it.
"After three years it has certainly proved its worth, and we've had no trouble with resistance. I've read stories about people saying you should do a year without them, but I wouldn't run that risk, it's not worth it - it might take me back to far."
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 (615)
Merck Sharp & Dohme and Aventis Company.
(IVOMEC Maximizer is a Trademark of Merial Limited, 27 Knightsbridge, SW1, London, England.
Licensed under the Animal Remedies Act 1967 No 7192)