Matakanui & Rockthorpe Polwarths
The Matakanui property has been farmed by the Patersons since the late 50’s. The Polwarth stud commenced in 1979 with Polwarth genetics from the Brolga, Wolbunya, Homeleigh and Jellalabad studs in Australia.
The genetic pool was enlarged in 1996 with the purchase of 182 mixed age and 2th ewes and 148 lambs, all selected from the estate of R. E. Lawrence’s Rockthorpe stud in Tasmania.
Stud sires, 2th rams and ram hoggets from Rockthorpe were selected for continuance of a high quality Polwarth stud in New Zealand, and air freighted to Matakanui direct from Tasmania. The Matakanui and Rockthorpe studs combined, now represent the single most important Polwarth genetic pool in Australasia.
Selected rams, ewes and hoggets are bred for sale throughout New Zealand and for export.
Located at Omakau, in the Central Otago region New Zealand, Matakanui runs 17000 sheep, comprising 10000 ewes, 4000 hoggets, 3000 wethers, plus 1200 Hereford cattle. The region has some of the driest and hottest climatic conditions, contrasted by cold snow clad winters. From 400 Ha of irrigated lowlands, Matakanui elevates up to 1500 metres ASL of high country terrain. All sheep bred under these extremes can be classed as versatile sheep. They retain the heritability of consistent fibre micron diameter combined with productivity, and progeny achieve maximum performance possible under these harsh extremes. All stock are raised to maturity.
The Paterson family run the entire property, with Martin involved in classing of wool, plus the day to day farm operations, his wife Hilary in the performance recording of stock and wool, with the next generation of sons, Andrew and Hamish carrying on the family tradition. Sheep classing is done by Polwarth expert Ken Arnold from Tasmania under the watchful eye of Martin Paterson.
Performance recording commenced at the stud’s inception in 1979.
Pedigree and Performance
From the Matakanui and Rockthorpe studs a pool of ewes and rams are fully recorded on computer for genetic traits for both individual performance characteristics and in particular wool quality. Polwarth wool has outstanding qualities for overseas buyers and all rams are selected and measured as adults to accurately measure micron fineness.
Stock is tagged at birth and lifetime recorded information on wool yield, micron, clean fleece weight, birth histories etc. are available to prospective buyers. Prickle factor and Coefficient of Variation of micron tests are also available along with other side sampling data.
Wool preparation is paramount at Matakanui Station with Fernmark Gold and WoolCare accreditation ensuring the highest standards possible for our international clients.
Along with extensive wool information, performance recording traces the reproduction qualities of the Matakanui and Rockthorpe studs for desirable traits such as multiple births, ease of lambing, mothering ability, and early maturity and longevity of ewes and rams.
Scanning of stud and flock ewes at 160% offers the potential for high productivity and at Matakanui we are achieving 56% of ewes with multiple births giving a result of 140% in the shepherded stud ewes and 110-120% in the flock ewes at tailing. These figures are representative of an average season, on what is predominantly high country conditions and an unshepherded flock.
We strive to breed robust ewes that lamb in a harsh environment under normal feed conditions. All adult sheep are pre-lamb shorn and average 5kg plus of bright soft handling wool.
The extensive flock of 17000 Polwarth sheep is a proven testing ground for stud selection under full commercial conditions. Stud stock are all selected for their attributes in harsh conditions and only the healthiest sheep free of physical defects go on to further reproduction in the Matakanui and Rockthorpe studs.
Our stock are selected for easy care in many differing ways and are outstanding performers in less severe climates.
Being one of the most versatile breeds available, Matakanui Polwarths have proven results with winning champions and reserve champions at Shows in Fairlie, Ashburton, Timaru, Strath Taieri, Wanaka and Omakau.
Our Ewe and Ram fleeces have been successful at New Zealand National Golden Fleece fine wool competitions, having won twice. Over the last two decades Matakanui has repeatedly had many firsts and seconds in the halfbred and quarterbred sections for its wool.
Overseas mills use Matakanui Wool as a preferred product. Length, combined with fineness, are qualities synonymous with Polwarth style wools, and offer spinners processing efficiencies and reduced downtime through less yarn breakages. Matakanui and Rockthorpe rams are being introduced into many quarter and halfbred flocks to provide the higher quality wools demanded by overseas mills, with increased returns to New Zealand farmers for their wool in addition to meat returns.