Barb and I arrived at Glenview in 1982 and began farming here as lessees of a very run down 273ha hill country property that we believed had potential. Five years later we were fortunate to be able to scrape together just enough money to enable us to buy the place. Our property is situated in the heart of the Wairarapa, 20 minutes southeast of Masterton.
We were thrilled to be able to put roots down and embark on a highly indebted, incredibly challenging but enormously rewarding farming journey. Along the way we have added other blocks and 30 odd years on we now farm approx. 500ha of winter wet/summer dry country running Romney and South Suffolk stud sheep alongside purebred South Devon cattle.
At the outset Glenview was crying out for major development especially fencing and fertiliser. However the combination of a large mortgage and the era of ‘Rogernomics’ meant that our budget could only run to fencing or fertiliser. We opted for fencing and continued to prioritise that, along with improvements to other infrastructure, in the ensuing years, all at the expense of fertiliser.
At that stage the P levels were in the 8-12 range (pH 5.6) and the pasture composition was predominantly native with little clover and reflected the lax grazing and low fertiliser inputs over the previous decades. We figured (rightly or wrongly) that given it was going to take a lot of fertiliser and a lot of time to turn things around we might be better off breeding Romneys that could cope with our ‘low octane’ pasture and still perform at the highest level. We believed that if sheep could prove themselves in our environment they would almost certainly shift and thrive elsewhere.
We then established an elite flock of approx. 50 top performing ewes selected from our 2500 ewe commercial flock. Those ‘screened in’ ewes were assessed very thoroughly prior to their selection and were genuinely the cream of our flock at that time. The following autumn they were single sire mated and at that point the Glenview Romney breeding programme was underway!
A lot has happened over the last 25 years – inevitably there have been some disappointments but the cumulative gains that our sheep have made over that period (performance, constitution, structural soundness & type) have been substantial and that progress has constantly fuelled our enthusiasm along the way.
The fundamental vision that we had all those years ago of the ultimate Romney sheep based around a ‘cast iron’ constititution has not altered and we still continue to farm without the assistance of fertiliser. This has become one of Glenview Romneys’ points of difference. In addition, no crops are grown for sheep nor do they receive any supplementary feed irrespective of the season.
Our Romney stud ewe numbers now sit at around 1000 and we also mate approx. 400 stud ewe hoggets to Romney sires. Ewes and hoggets essentially lamb unshepherded but are checked every second day for interest sake and in order to take care of any animal welfare issues. We try to be as ‘hands off’ as possible at lambing time and don’t tag lambs at birth. Instead we mother up ewes and lambs prior to weaning and bring them individually into the yards to record pedigrees, assess each ewe and her lambs and record the good and the bad information.
In a normal season ewes dock 150% or better and hoggets dock around 100%. This provides us with sufficient numbers that allow us to ruthlessly cull lambs and hoggets that don’t measure up so that we only retain the very best as flock replacements or sale 2th rams.
We currently sell approx. 300 Romney rams annually throughout NZ. We are very fortunate to have many longstanding clients including some who have been with us from day one. We feel priviledged to have had their business for so long but more than anything we value the friendships that have developed over those years.
Thankfully the demand for our rams has continued to grow and this has provided us with even more motivation to keep striving for further improvement in the quest to breed the ‘perfect’ sheep!