A move to the South from Canterbury has got off to a great start for Te Anau Hampshire breeders Georgina Priergarrd-Petersen and Geoff Macfarlane, with one of their rams fetching $7200 at a recent Gore ram sale.
The couple lease a 200ha property above Lake Te Anau where besides managing their Four Winds Hampshire Stud, they also graze 400 dairy cows alongside some 250 other heifers and cattle.
''Georgina's parents have a farm in Te Anau so we made the decision to move the stud from Oxford in Canterbury down here,'' Macfarlane said.
''I had originally run the business with my mother Rita after purchasing 10 ewes in Oamaru.''
Although the breed arrived in New Zealand in 1861, it was revived in 1952 when two new flocks were imported from England.
Macfarlane's interest in the breed started when he was 8 or 9.
''I was given a book for Christmas on different sheep breeds and even then the Hampshire stood out for me,'' he said.
''It seem a natural move to get some of the breed for my mother's lifestyle block in Canterbury.''
When they purchased the ewes, they had a friend do an eye muscle scan and the results were very encouraging.
''We built the stud up using stock from other Hampshire breeders as well as bringing in some semen from Australia,'' Macfarlane said.
''The move to Te Anau and a bigger property means that we are now able to expand much more than we were in Canterbury.''
He said they would like to expand the stud to more than 100 ewes.
The couple plan to build up their capital stock with a view to eventually acquiring their own property.
''The lease property came with a grazing contract so we have a good platform to work off,'' Macfarlane said.
''The property suits us, especially as we have no great desire to get into dairying.''
The activities on the block are reasonable complementary, he said, as the cows are away when lambing is taking place.
Although the Hampshire breed is well-established within sheep farming in New Zealand, Macfarlane said the fact that there were still quite a few unregistered breeders could make life difficult for studs.
''It's up to us to continue to make improvements to the breed and demonstrate the value in our sires,'' he said.
The ram which fetched the high price at Gore was not one that would necessarily stand out in a flock, but on closer examination showed a compact, meaty frame.
''I'm pleased he has gone to a registered breeder,'' Macfarlane said.
''I've kept one of his full brothers and I won't be letting him go any time soon.''
The couple enjoyed being part of the Hampshire breeder community, he said.
''There are a reasonable number of younger breeders involved and we enjoy socialising and sharing our ideas. We all share a passion for the breed and are confident it has a strong future.''