Jody Robinson-Wildey – Abyrose Wiltshires, Manawatu
Pampered sheep live their best life at Abyrose Wiltshires near Rongotea in the Manawatu, and that includes top nutrition.
When Jody Robinson-Wildey and her husband Mike moved to a 5-acre lifestyle block seven years ago, Jody realised her dream of having two house cows and a small flock of Wiltshire sheep.
The tag line is ‘quality Wiltshires raised with love’ and that sentiment is evident when Jody talks about her sheep. “I’ve always loved sheep, I’m an animal person. As a teenager I made a decision not to eat my favourite animal, sheep.”
Wiltshires made sense from a lifestyle point of view, no shearing was a huge drawcard, as well as no fly strike, and good mothering ability making them the perfect low maintenance breed for a lifestyle block. Jody also selects on feet because of the swamp-like conditions in the Manawatu.
“Wiltshires have heaps of personality, are highly intelligent and want to be involved with what’s going on. They learn quickly and they climb to reach tasty willow tree, kind of like goats. We raise friendly animals and that’s part of my breeding, to offer lifestylers a calm animal. They’re easier to work with and have been hugely popular.”
It started with two orphan lambs, Mint and Sage, and has grown to a flock of 16 breeding ewes and a stud registered with the Rare Breeds Society of New Zealand.
Jody mainly breeds sheep to sell to lifestylers as pets, though she has sold breeding rams to farmers converting to Wiltshires. She’s fussy about where her sheep go, they must have shelters, and she’s particular that they are not to be sold for meat.
“We work with many top Wiltshire farmers and we advocate for the sheep, leading by example. We have almost as many shelters as we do sheep, and the straw is changed every 24 hours at this time of year (winter).”
Jody’s husband purpose built the Baa-ternity suite, where the majority of the ewes will lamb indoors to ensure optimum survival and give lambs the very best start in life.
Jody found Sharpes Farm Feeds when the product she was feeding her sheep was taken off the market. Used to a small (6mm) pellet, she found her sheep turned up their nose at anything bigger.
“I had to think outside the box and looked into Sharpes and saw they did specially made products. The sheep were used to small pellets and flat out refused to eat anything bigger. Sharpes said absolutely, we can do you a Multifeed pellet. They do a special size for me.
“Sharpes are fantastic to deal with, too, and the sheep love their pellets – they would kill for Sharpes Multifeed pellets,” she laughs.
Nutrition is very important to Jody and she likes that Sharpes is Palm Kernel free. A pellet with the correct amount of protein, fat, minerals and vitamins is also key. “I did lots of research and have had independent nutritionists work with me.”
The sheep are fed the Sharpes pellet in summer, winter and pre-tup, though she does wish Sharpes would make a high protein ewe nut for during lactation and pre-lambing. Lambs get Sharpes Lamb Sweetmix and Lamb Pellets, slowly transitioning to the Multifeed pellets from three months old.
Jody also feeds her cows the Sharpes Multifeed Nuts in summer and winter, and gives them the High Energy Dairy Nuts while they are pregnant. The cows go through a 20kg bag every 10 days, as well as being supplemented with hay and balage.
She orders through Farmlands Marton, but always touches base with the team in the Sharpes office too when she places an order. For the sheep, she buys six 20kg bags at a time, currently (August) the sheep are getting 100-150 grams/day/sheep as well as hay. The quantity is adjusted according to the season, for example, pre-tup the sheep are boosted up to 250g/day. Sheep are fed individually, so she knows they are getting their exact ration.
“It’s important to give the sheep good nutrition and provide shelter. We breed to sell a good quality animal that fully sheds. Nutrition wise, it’s so important to grow them out,” she sums up.