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Farming Corriedales in Southland, New Zealand

by Anita Erskine, Westwood Farm

When you think of Corriedales in New Zealand, often your first thought is that they are likely to be in the Canterbury area or maybe hill country. Corriedales, being fine-wool sheep, like drier areas with some hills to roam around on. Southland is not usually a dry part of New Zealand, and the farm I am on does not have hills, so is not somewhere you would normally consider introducing Corriedales.

When my nephew asked if we could bring a spotted Corriedale home to Southland, my first thought was ‘no, I don’t think that would be a good idea, as it woun’t go very well on our farm’. But then I thought ‘why not? Its only one sheep, and not a big loss if it does not work out.’

So, the first spotted Corriedale arrived home. She was a great sheep that handled the Southland weather well. If you are going to have one spotted Corriedale why not have more? So over time a few more have been added and a few more culled just as quickly. Some of them did not cope with the change from drier areas to Southland. I had never seen a fleece on a ewe green before I got Corriedales – the wool on some were like having green slime on the outside of the fleece. Those sheep did not stay around long.

Feet are another issue on the softer paddocks in Southland. The odd ewe has ended up with very long feet, scald or footrot. These sheep were also promptly removed from the flock.

Once I had got rid of the sheep that could not cope in Southland, I have hardly had any green fleeces or foot problems. Like everything, sometimes you have to be tough on the stock, to move ahead.

Lambing time, in September, is fun, as you never know what the spots on the lambs will look like. Like all fine-wool lambs, they do not handle a lot of rain on them when they are first born. It can make for a little extra work at lambing, as you cart the ewe with her new lambs to the warmth of the shed for a day, with some lambs spending some time under the heat lamp if they need extra help warming up. If it’s a good day, they look after themselves very nicely and can stay out in the paddock.

Corriedales often take longer to fatten So, for any cull lambs that you may have to sell, you need to budget on the fact they will not be going before Christmas, but will most likely be ready at about four to six months of age.

Farming Corriedales in Southland can be challenging, but if you are prepared to cull for problems and look after new lambs on a rough weather day, then you will enjoy having them, as I do.

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