Charollais Sheep NZ was established in 2010 as a breeding company jointly owned by the Rohloff and Ponsonby families. With a combined six decades of successful ram breeding behind them, the two families came together to introduce and adapt the Charollais breed’s internationally recognised advantages to the New Zealand meat industry.
Using their collective knowledge of modern performance recording technologies and a keen understanding for the unique conditions and challenges of sheep farming in New Zealand, the Charollais breed was singled out as ideal for taking prime New Zealand lamb to new heights, and Charollais Sheep NZ was formed.
The Charollais Sheep NZ team
Peter Ponsonby and Mary Ponsonby
Peter and Mary first visited the UK in 2009 and independently assessed
the Charollais as one of the only breeds which offered the NZ sheep
industry anything extra.
In 2010 Charollais Sheep NZ imported frozen embryos and semen from sires
of diverse pedigrees. The semen was used on Poll Dorset x Texel ewes,
all carrying one copy of the muscle development gene MyoMAX and many
carrying LoinMax , the gene which enhances eye muscle size.
Peter and Mary visited breeders in the UK again in 2012. Some Charollais
flocks were very attractive from a Kiwi perspective having better pelts
with good dense fleece cover. Others were more suited to indoor lambing
and were too bare for NZ conditions.
Peter said, “What we imported was from the right type for us, but those
we have graded up from Poll Dorset X Texels are a step up again. I’m
more confident than ever that we have the genetics for NZ conditions.”
The cross bred progeny have been acclaimed as outstanding for growth, shape and muscling.
“The growth from Charollais sired lambs has been better than anything I
have seen in my 40-odd years of ram breeding,” Peter says.
Matthew manages a large lamb finishing operation near Lawrence and is closely involved with Charollais Sheep NZ.
“I have never had such good lambs at weaning and being out of hoggets has been a real eye opener,” says Matthew.
Charollais Sheep NZ breeding policy
The breeding policy of Charollais Sheep NZ is to develop the Charollais for New Zealand conditions by grading-up through highly ranked Poll Dorset x Texels directly compared to crosses with straight Texels, Dorset Downs, Poll Dorset x Suffolks and Poll Dorset x Southdowns, all performance recorded on SIL.
This “Kiwi-isation” has a vision to retain the growth, muscling and easy birthing of the Charollais, but enhance the pelt quality of the breed for New Zealand conditions and markets.