Currently less than 30% of all hoggets are presented for mating in New Zealand. This would suggest that there are a number of disadvantages to this management practise. However to date it has not been accurately established what farmers perceive as the disadvantages of hogget mating and the relative importance of each of these disadvantages. A questionnaire was sent to New Zealand sheep farmers which asked a series of questions regarding farm type, size, farm class, flock type, flock size and the intended use of hogget mating in 2002 and its use in the past. Those farmers who were not intending to mate hoggets in 2002 were also asked to indicate the importance, on a scale of 1.4, of 11 stated reasons for not hogget mating. A total of 1981 questionnaires were returned and used in the present study from a total of 14,000 sent to farmers. Descriptive analysis indicated negative effects on two-tooth performance and lack of additional feed were the two main reasons for not mating hoggets. The least important variables were lack of experience and the need for extra rams/teasers. The intended use of hogget mating differed based on farm class, farm size, ewe flock size and farm and flock type. Farmers were more than twice as likely to mate hoggets in 2002 if they had a mixed-bred flock in comparison to a straight-bred flock and more than twenty times more likely to mate hoggets in 2002 if they had mated hoggets in previous years. This study indicates that farmers perceive impaired two-tooth performance as a major reason for not hogget mating, even though research to date would indicate this is not that case. Therefore either improved technology transfer is required or the effects of hogget mating on two-tooth performance need to be re-visited.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 64, Hamilton, 217-222, 2004
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