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New Prime Off Mum Challenge launched to NZ Farmers

Media Statement

Friday February 20, 2015

New Prime Off Mum Challenge launched to New Zealand Farmers

New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics company is encouraging farmers to get in behind a new initiative which aims to get more prime lambs straight to the works off their mothers and in turn increase farm profitability.

Focus Genetics is launching the new benchmarking challenge “Prime off Mum” open to all New Zealand sheep farmers. Registrations open on Monday February 23 at www.primeoffmum.co.nz.

The challenge will give participating farmers an opportunity to find out how they are tracking against others with similar land classes.

While individual farmer details are strictly confidential, the combined information gathered will allow each farmer to see where they are at, and also help identify opportunities where they could improve their prime off mum numbers.

Sheep farmer Sam Morrah, from Wallingford, Central Hawke’s Bay, is encouraging others to take up the challenge.

“Prime off mum to me is a lamb that weighs 35kg or more at weaning and has enough condition to either grade Y or P.

"People always say the lamb off mum is the best lamb you can have. You drench it, you might have to crutch it and off it goes.

"One of the biggest factors is price, as the schedule drops from the start of the season. A lamb off mum at the highest possible price at this time makes that lamb pretty valuable and frees up feed for other lambs coming through.

"Our target number of lambs away off the mother is around 30% of lambs born and we are building to that quite comfortably given our class of country,” says Sam.

Focus Genetics Sheep and Deer Programme Manager Dr.Richard Lee says “Prime Off Mum is a very transparent farm measure that can have a significant impact for farmers – both in terms of hitting early schedule pricing and, more importantly, freeing up feed for other classes of livestock.

Together this has the opportunity to increase farm returns with higher sale prices as well as increased on-farm efficiencies, Dr Lee said.

“Our focus is to get farmers thinking about the levers they can pull to influence this, with a big driver being lambing percentage as this dictates how many ewes can go to the terminal ram.

“Ultimately, getting more lambs away early is key, as it means getting condition back on ewes and getting hoggets up to mating weight.

“Increasing the national average lambing percentage to say 140%, and bringing the 3 million or so hoggets that aren’t mated into production could see around 6 million more lambs on the ground,” he said.

Farmers register their interest through the website www.primeoffmum.co.nz. All information is confidential. They do not have to be Focus Genetic’s clients.

At the end of the season all farmers will be given a report. The challenge is not a competition, rather a way to let farmers know how they are performing and to see how they could improve their results and profitability.

The benefit to Focus Genetics it is will receive information about how farms from different parts of New Zealand and different land classes are performing, as well as profiling its rams’ performance.

“We want to help farmers improve their output and profitability. We see significant underutilisation of terminal sires, and by setting some goals and targets around meat production, we believe that we can increase farmers output.

“Of course the key driver is getting a high lambing percentage, so it also does bring the focus on to maternal rams.

“Notwithstanding Merino Farmers, the primary purpose of sheep farming in New Zealand is to produce lamb for export, so creating an environment where more ewes can go to a “fit-for-purpose” meat production ram the better,” said Dr Lee.

Ends


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