Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Our Second On Farm Sale: This year it will be held at 3pm on Wednesday the 24th of November 2010 with around 150 Romneys, Southdowns and South Suffolks in total being put up for sale.

Unfortunately we have had to move it to the afternoon before last year, as Mr Giddings who traditionally had his sale on Thursday afternoon in Fairlie has moved his sale to 10am and taken it through to the afternoon as well. Accordingly it’s just not possible to get both sales in on the same day, which I would still prefer if I could, as it must be more appealing to farmers to see as many rams as they can in one day, but at the moment it’s simply not possible.

As most of you know I believe my rams are better anyway, so I hope you all will come to my sale the day before in any event. If you do want to stay the night before and/or after the sale, I can accommodate 6 or 8 people in my home, my mother a couple more if need be, and there is obviously some local accommodation, which I can book for you if you wish.

On Line Sale

Further to alleviate the difficulty of attending the sale, this year the Helmsman sale will be run in conjunction with an online sale (run by Agonline, i.e. PGGW as well). You will have to register in advance with Agonline and from that point you will be able to bid from home both prior to and during the sale. Those attending the sale and bidding will be kept up to date with any bids being made on line and vice versa, until there is only one winner at the close of the sale on 24 November. More details of how this will actually operate will be included in the catalogue.

The logical advantage of this is that if you know you cannot attend the sale, then as the rams will generally be available for inspection in November prior to the sale (I say generally as I will be away at the Feilding ram fair for a few days) you can come at your convenience and sort out what you may be interested in and then bid from home on the day. I again will be posting 20 second videos of all rams being put up for sale via you tube which may assist you in making a selection as well. As you know I am straight up guy, so if you can’t attend and want to know more about a ram, feel free to give me a call and I will tell you what I think.

Visiting Clients

I have been to see a few clients during the winter, but not many, quite simply because of the winter we have had, its been so bloody wet that I did not know from day to day where I would be putting up my next break for the ewes, it was just one big juggling effort for the majority of the winter, I hope we don’t have another one like that for a while. As I couldn’t set things up for days in advance I simply couldn’t get away to visit clients and those locally I felt were probably as miserable as I about the weather and the last thing they would want to do was show me around the farm. Ironically in the last fortnight we have gone from being ridiculously wet to needing rain at the time of writing of this, we missed all the really bad weather Southland etc got, but got lots of cold nor'westers, which has dried everything out.

I do intend in the next month to see as many of you as I can, some may see me before you get this letter. I will simply turn up on the off chance you are there as I don’t want to force anyone into thinking they have to entertain me, if you are not there or your busy that’s okay, but if you have an hour or so, I would greatly appreciate it as it gives me some understanding of where you farm and under what conditions and as such what sort of things you expect from my rams.

Worm Resistance/Resilience

There is a lot of gimmick advertising in this regard in my view, guys simply climbing on a band wagon to sell rams. I don’t use the worm star gene test, as in my view it’s a scam. The worm star test is approximately 80% about growth and 20% about worms, I am sure that if it was called the growth star test, even less people would be using it. The reason I say this is the most reliable figures you get out of SIL are the weaning weight and live weight 6 or 8 breeding values, yes your growth rates, so you don’t need a gene test to sort that one out. On top of this, those animals with good growth rates are likely to be those that are handling the worms better, hence the better growth rate.

I am looking into the Carla Saliva test that has been developed by AgResearch as to the merits or otherwise of doing this, it won’t be this year but if its not garbage like I believe wormstar to be, then I will certainly see how I can use it with my lambs come February or march next year.

In terms of my farming practice, I don’t drench the ewes at all from the age of being a 2th onwards. Since doing this I find that I may cull a few more ewes than I used to every year that are struggling to handle things at weaning time, but I figure over time this should diminish as logically those ewes that handle worms better will be those that remain. Also I practice the extended drenching idea with those lambs that I retain: I drench them more like every 6 weeks or longer even as lambs. I don’t do this with the culls as I regularly drench those so I get them killed as early as I can.

Ewe Efficiency (size of the ewe)

Again as a breeder I find it irritating what some people push about this. There is no doubt that Romneys got too big, too slabby and narrow, and I like most breeders have for some time now changed our sheep to be smaller thicker and stockier, but smaller does not necessarily mean more efficient, look at humans, some big people eat a lot less than some little people. If you get too small you also run the risk of lambs not reaching target kill weights, which from reading the rural mags it would seem inevitable that such weights will increase to perhaps 20kg to somewhat off set diminishing sheep numbers. I like to think that the size of my Romneys are about where they should be at now. Accordingly to make a sweeping statement that an x kilo ewe is the most efficient is just garbage, you must have regard to the ewe, is she a good doer and raising good lambs etc, that is what intensive recording systems that breeders like myself have which allow us to get rid of those who don’t come up to the mark.


My ram hogget 30 week wool weights will be a waste of time this year, they just got covered in mud, horrendous shearing. So you will have to rely on SIL and eye this year.

In terms of wool as a director and councillor of NZ Romney, we have been trying to make a difference but it’s hard work. I firmly believe we need to get paid $10 a kg to be viable, combine this with a $100 plus lamb and sheep farming may be profitable and compete with other land uses. It seems to me that the bar is set too low and on top of this it’s governed by shareholders of companies brokering wool, who are more interested and legally obliged to make money for the shareholders and the Company (which does not equate to growers). Accordingly the easiest way to make more money is pay the grower less and any rhetoric that they have the growers’ best interests at heart is quite simply not credible.

I don’t believe WPI will succeed unless global demand and the price for wool increases as well because they cannot get anyone to pay a premium for the wool now while providing them with an ingredient brand, back up, promotions etc, so how will they get it later on (unless wool price increases across the board, which if it does why be part of WPI?). If the wool price globally does not increase, then when WPI do demand a premium, I am sure that those same people will buy their wool for less money from someone else that can provide a similar story, back up and promotion. Wool demand has been decreasing as quick as wool supply. Its only recently where demand seems to be outstripping supply, with the recent trend of price increases, may it long continue.

The Elders/ Primary wools’ brand Just shorn is being marketed with a premium but not that significant and not significant quantities, and again Elders need to make money, so why are they going to give the maximum amount back to the grower. Its really become a procurement war between Elders and WPI. I hope they all succeed as we need it, but I am not overly confident about it.

I personally would like to see all farmers buy a niche carpet manufacturer (that is doing well not failing) i.e. make it a cooperative, so there is no competing interests to make money, as it has become clear to me with my frustrated involvement in the last few years, in trying to make a difference, that the only certain way to get more money for growers is to own the product to at least wholesale, then its not hard to pay the grower $10 a kilo. I would be very interested in your thoughts on this.

My Blog

Some of you may have noticed coupler articles of mine that have been published in the Straight Furrow; these have come from my Blog site: “WaidaleRams-Ike Williams”. I have got back into this in an attempt to improve my website’s showing on searches, so it comes up first ideally, if your not on the first page it’s a waste of time. Plus its an outlet for me to say what I think, as there is plenty in these rural mags that annoy the hell out of me, I hope to put something up once a week, but with lambing it has taken a back seat, but if you are interested in some of my rantings take a look, it might amuse you.

Some Key things to remember about Waidale:

• All flocks SIL recorded and Macro stock recorded

• All Romney ewes that have two singles in a row are culled

• DNA profiling for Footrot and cold tolerance of sires for several years now

• All ram hoggets are eye muscled scanned

• We consistently wean in excess of 150%

• All rams put up for sale are sound, genuine stockmanship is applied: we are not just about figures.

• Only sires that look the part and have the figures are used at Waidale, they must be both.

• Probably the most good looking ram breeder in the country!!!!!!! Got to have some humour yes?

Well I hope to see you most of you in the next month, and most certainly at my sale, if you want to know anything that I have not covered or have covered, please feel free to give me a call.


Ike Williams.

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