Matakanui Genetics

Performance recording commenced in 1979 and has led to an award winning stud and flock. Back then Hilary Paterson recorded the 1,000+ Polwarth Stud by hand diligently recording families and traits.

Historically Martin and Hilary went to Australia to buy rams for the Polwarth stud. On one of the early visits they met Ken Arnold of Tasmania who they developed a rapport with. Ken was invited to Matakanui to assist in the stud classing and mating. Ken’s wealth of knowledge and eye for wool saw him have this role for 25 years until his retirement in 2016.

In 1996 Martin & Hilary were offered an exclusive sale of the Polwarth “Rockthorpe Stud” in Tasmania. Martin and son Andrew made their selection of 327 ewes and 19 rams from the stud. The selected sheep were put into quarantine for a month, went through a battery of tests to meet NZ import regulations of which they all cleared, and were then flown in a DHL Boeing 727 in specially made crates to Christchurch. They were then trucked to Matakanui. The Rockthorpe Stud still exists today however all rams are sold under the Matakanui name.

Today Tracy completes all of Matakanui’s stud recording using a program called Macrostock. This is a live system where much of the data can be inserted or edited instanteously. There is a huge amount of information recorded on each animal from birth till death. Information is recorded against every animals electronic idenitification (EID) which is attached to their ear. In order to prevent potential loss of data if an EID is lost an additional tag identifying the sire, year and number is given to each lamb at birth.

Matakanui also has embraced the use of estimated breeding values (EBV’s) to assist them and their ram clients with selection. Having this information is another tool to continually improve the genetics and desirable traits. There is about 200 – 250 rams sold every year.

Footrot – Matakanui has been working on the prevention and minimisation of footrot in their sheep. Andrew is very passionate about this program and it is a strong focus for the stud. Many years ago Andrew decided that he did not want to be standing at the footrot cradle inspecting feet with his children as he had with his dad. From that date on there has been identification of the animals with footrot through special eartags, genetic testing using the Lincoln footrot test, and an on farm management program which challenges every stud ram born on the property. In order for the ram to make it to the first stage of selection it must pass the footrot test. Initially the numbers were disheartening however perseverance has paid off and now by employing all of the tests and information available the footrot numbers are significantly lower and at a manageable level. Ideally Andrew would like to be footrot free and they are working towards that goal.

Matakanui has also bred their own terminal rams out of Polwarth ewes and Snowliner rams (SLX). The progeny out of the SLX rams is fast maturing and the wool fits into contract.

While the majority of genetics is sold in New Zealand with live rams (mostly in the South Island) there is also semen being purchased from overseas growers. This year we have sent semen to the USA and have had enquiries from both Australia and South America.