Thursday, May 19, 2022

Shrek 2: The sequel

An elusive Merino wether is feeling a whole lot lighter after being the star of Tekapo’s annual Easter Monday market.

Devold Wool Direct NZ general manager Craig Smith and Sawdon Station owner Gavin (Snow) Loxton with Shrekapo launching a new sheep-to-shop venture.

An elusive Merino wether is feeling a whole lot lighter after being the star of Tekapo’s annual Easter Monday market.

The Sawdon Station hermit has been evading capture for four years before being spotted on Mt Edward, near Tekapo, by staff on the station’s annual wether muster.

“We were getting the wethers in for belly crutching and he was spotted but again reluctant to come in so staff went back with Ziggy (the dog), rounded him up and finally got him in,” station owner Gavin (Snow) Loxton said.

“We named him Shrekapo and decided he could have his time of fame on the shearing board.”

Shrekapo was trucked into Tekapo and became the star of the show at the town’s Easter market.

Shorn before a large crowd by Fairlie farmer and world champion blade shearer Tony Dobbs, Shrekapo’s first trim yielded 18.6 kilograms of wool.

“We have jokingly been calling him Spaceman since his shearing as he reminds us of an astronaut returning from space, he was a bit wobbly without the weight of his fleece and looking everywhere with no wool over his eyes.”

Loxton believes Shrekapo was lost as a lamb when he didn’t follow his mother in the ewe muster.

Over the years he has been spotted by rabbit and tahr hunters, but never again.

Shrekapo is under a closer watch now having taken up residence in the pet lamb paddock.

“He’s out there happily sunning himself now under Sue’s (Loxton) watchful eye.”

Shrekapo’s capture was timely for the launch of Sawdon Station’s new sheep-to-shop venture with Devold Wool Direct.

“Devold has been purchasing our wool at auction, on average 60 bales a year, which apparently makes 33,000 garments,” Loxton said.

Running a flock of 3000 Merino ewes and 1200 wethers, wool is big chunk of Sawdon’s farming operation.

“Devold has increased its influence around the area so for us now, it’s nice to be involved under the contract, something different after 25 years of owning the station,” Loxton said.

Devold general manager Craig Smith says as a wool processor the company is always looking for consistency in the quality of the wool it buys.

He says a lot of the genetics coming into play now in the fine wool sector are looking at numbers – Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to breed sheep.

“You can’t just breed a sheep by numbers, the sheep needs to have good constitution and structure, and quality colour and crimp in the wool.

“A lot of the breeding now focused on the dual-purpose Merino is losing the quality and structure of the wool and putting New Zealand’s reputation for quality fine wool under threat,” Smith said.

Sawdon Station, in conjunction with several key stud breeders, is keeping on track with good wool bloodlines that are crucial to processors to get a quality finished garment.

“While they are using new technologies, they are still ensuring the constitution is sound and this means looking at the sheep to make sure it can walk and stands up well and is capable of growing a quality fleece.

“It’s about bringing in new genetics and technologies to improve what you have got, not to the detriment of it.

“We are lucky to have the breeders that still value good constitution in a Merino, as contrary to what people may think the crimp and structure of the fibre is extremely important to the processing ability and end-consumer experience in the final garment,” Smith said.

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