Icon Southie offers early maturity and feed conversion

The flock of 700 Chrome maternal ewe lambs have pregnancy scanned at 157 per cent. The Chrome stud will exhibit at the Henty Machinery Field Days.

A composite sheep breed offering early maturity, doing ability, feed conversion and consistent tight skins will be on display at the field days for the first time.

The Icon Southie has been developed by Hamilton sheep breeders Matt and Tanya Tonissen, Chrome Stud.

The Icon Southie is a Southdown-Poll Dorset composite enthusiastically adopted by many western district sheep producers for the turn-off of quick growing, early maturing and well-muscled domestic lambs.

With its hard black hooves, ease of lambing, compact structure, hardiness and tight skins, the Icon Southie has developed a following in wetter areas and across a broad range of flocks.

Mr Tonissen said Icon Southies had more genetic fat at a younger age giving them advantages in cold, wet weather.

“Most of the Icon Southies are being sold as typical domestic or trade spring lamb markets,’’ he said.

The couple sell more than 700 rams a year across their Chromedale, Perendale, Coopworth, Poll Dorset and Icon Southie breeds.

The Chrome stud hosts two major on-property sales each year, the main sale in October and the second in January catering for clients with later joining flocks.

Starting from their Icon Poll Dorset and Coopworth stud bases, the Tonissens have expanded to breed composite maternal sheep relevant to their customer’s needs.

Key aims have been to produce highly productive, efficient sheep of medium adult weight coupled with high fertility and early growth.

The Chromedale maternal composite has carved a reputation as the mainstream maternal sire for the majority of Chrome clients.

It offers medium framed ewes with outstanding mothering ability, worm resistance and high fertility.

The black-hooved Perendales have proven to be tough, suited to wet conditions and worm resistant, helping to pull back adult ewe weights to give greater efficiency.

“Many of the Chrome ram clients are reporting ewes dropping, 170-180 per cent lambs, resulting in marketing rates around the 150 per cent mark,’’ Mr Tonissen said.

“In Chrome’s own flock, the stud maternal ewe lambs this year scanned at a whopping 157 per cent.’’