Tough sheep which can better survive drought have pushed a strong demand from Australia for New Zealand sheep genetics, with three sheep shipments crossing the Tasman in the last 12 months.
Last month Focus Genetics flew 100 Primera and Highlander rams to Victoria to help meet the growing demand for Kiwi genetics.
Australian genetics company Paringa Livestock, which has partnered with the New Zealand company, says demand is high because farmers have endured one of the worst droughts on record and need tough stock to get through extreme conditions.
Kiwi strains show better lamb survival rates in these conditions. Thirteen hundred embryos have also been exported to Australia to keep up with demand.
Focus Genetics, a joint venture between Landcorp and Rissington Breedline, is a global company that focuses on developing genetically superior sheep, cattle and deer. The company's breeding programmes are 15 years ahead of Australia's in research and development and are producing top results.
Focus Genetics' animal breeding specialist Daniel Absolom says, "The demand for our rams in Australia exceeded all initial expectations. We have had a lot of inquiry from Australia over the last 15 years, but we wanted to find the right partners before we sent any rams." The Primera and Highlander breeds are well established here and in the United Kingdom and the time is now right for Australia, he says.
Paringa Livestock director Tom Lawson says, "In the last two years the results from the Primera and Highlanders have been phenomenal.
"Although we are still in the early stages we are seeing proven results, so there has been a big rush from farmers to buy more. During tough times farmers want top genetics. They don't want to take any risks."
The move into Australia has also attracted interest from Australian meat companies, which are interested in higher yielding New Zealand lamb that has also been taste tested.
As a result, Focus Genetics has partnered Australia's Murnong Farming in a two-year embryo programme in which more than 2000 embryos will be implanted for the supply of rams born and raised in Australia.
Primera and Highlander sheep breeds
Knowing one breed can't deliver everything, Focus Genetics has developed its own registered trademark breeds:
Lamb Supreme and Texel as terminal sires.
Focal points are: rapid growth/early maturity, high yielding, world's largest progeny test to identify the best sires, proven meat quality.
Landmark and Romney as maternal sires.
Focal points are: More kilograms weaned, high survival, FE tolerance, consistent wool.