Why Ile De France?

Lamb growth rates up with the best Terminal sires

Since the first arrival in NZ of both the Ile de France and Charollais breeds, progeny lamb growth pre and post weaning has been measured and compared with highly selected sires of Poll Dorset, Texel and Suffolk breeds in the Douglas Downs flock (SIL flock 271) owned by the Ponsonby family.

The Ile de France sires have ranked very favourably for growth by progeny testing 12 unrelated imported sires to date. Commercial farmers running both strong and fine woolled flocks have experienced weaning weights averaging up to 5 kgs heavier from Ile de France sired lambs compared to their previous maternal breed sires and about 3kgs heavier than those lambs by terminal sire breeds.

Ile de France sire 230/09 was used across all 5 sites of of the B+LNZ Central Progeny Test in 2014. His progeny’s outstanding growth put him 1st for Dual Purpose Growth Index (33% ahead of the 2nd placed sire) and 1st for Weaning Weight eBV. These results are highly significant for 2 reasons;

1. The trait “Days to Slaughter” has the greatest impact on profit (3.2 times that of the 2nd ranked trait, Survival). 

2. Sire 230/09 is not our highest ranked proven sire for growth with 2 younger sires having Growth Indexes around 3 times higher than 230/09 

Highest maternal breed for dressing out % and carcass meat yield

Romney x Ile de France lambs at 12 weeks of age, averaging 20.3 kgs at 57.8 % meat yield by Viascan.

High Meat to Bone ratio

The 2009 Ile de France x Dorset Horn ram and ewe lambs had greater eye muscle depth than Poll Dorset x Texel rams with MyoMAX. Regression analysis carried out by AbacusBio Ltd. projected Ile de France x Dorset Horns to have 10% more eye muscle area at 40 and 45kg live weight.

CT scanning of this cross proved the visual to be fact, with extreme meat to bone ratio in all carcass regions;

Total carcass = 6.5 : 1

 Shoulder 5.78 : 1
 Leg 8.04 : 1
 Loin 5.92 : 1
(normal maternal range 2.5 – 4.5:1)

These advantages will be reflected in yield payments.

Hardy foragers, highly suited to drought prone regions

Ile de France x Romney ewe lambs on the Raggedy Ranges, Central Otago

The Drought Masters

Both ewes and lambs of half and more Ile de France blood have remained in prime condition when Romneys and Poll Dorsets have lost condition in very dry periods in Central Otago. 

Farmers from eastern hills of Southern Hawkes Bay to Palmerston in North Otago have reported growth of Ile de France sired lambs on brown summer pastures double that of Romney, Composite and Romdale sires.

Seventy percent of New Zealand’s breeding flocks are located in regions with significant risk of summer and autumn drought.

Easy birthing, high twinning rates and good milkers

Kilos of lamb weaned per kilo of ewe mated, without additional cost, is the measure of a maternal breed

Ile de France sires imported into New Zealand have been selected on lower birth weight with higher growth rate (curve benders) as their role will largely be in flocks of nil or low shepherding intensity at lambing.

Ile de France lambs are very lively at birth. The Raggedy Range Ile de France flock (part of Ile de France NZ) weaned 181% of lambs from two and four tooth ewes averaging 37.2kgs at 12 weeks in 2014.

The Ile de France breed has one of the longest breeding seasons of all commercial breeds. This trait opens opportunities for farmers wanting to lamb three times in two years.

Farmax analysis (profitability per kilo of pasture dry matter consumed) has shown this system to achieve another 30% of profit over traditional systems with high producing sheep flocks.

White and high bulk mid micron wool

Ile de France x Romney hoggets

Zero wool colour

Ile de France fleece wool has high blue test readings meaning it is very white. The Raggedy Range flock, a grade-up flock from a Romney base, has recorded zero wool colour readings of its fleece lines every year. Ile de France has very soft high bulk wool adding to its value.

Although a mid micron fibre, it is not a traditional Halfbred style due to its spiral fibre construction making a round thick staple structure.

The Ile de France breed does not have fleeces which run weak at the points, around the belly and along back line. They do not suffer from fleece tenderness due to their ability to thrive in adverse conditions.

The net income from wool per annum is advantageous as shearing can be done once a year and the wool is mid-micron.