Gordon Levet has retired after 34 years of breeding sheep.
The Romney rams were in excellent condition.
Sheep breeders from all over the country travelled to Kikitangeo, near Wellsford, this month for a chance to bid on Gordon Levet’s famed rams.
There were more than 50 registered buyers at Gordon’s annual sale, and 76 rams were sold.
The highest selling ram on the day went for $3600, which sold to the Swan family of Wairoa.
Bidders included prominent Southland breeder Andrew Mitchell, who travelled from Gore.
One man said he had come all the way from Tauranga just to spectate the historic event.
It was Gordon’s final ram sale. His succession plans have not worked out, and he has embarked on a full dispersal sale.
Gordon said it was bittersweet to sell his life’s work, but the dispersal of his rams would be to the benefit of the national flock.
His Kikitangeo rams are famed for having been bred to resist parasitic worms without the need for drenching (inoculation).
Gordon says resistance to drenching is becoming a big problem among sheep, just like antibiotic resistance in humans.
He has had his best success in breeding resistance in recent years.
Resistance is measured with a dual purpose fecal count test (DPF), with a higher score indicating a better resistance.
The average DPF of Gordon’s 2015 born rams was 324, after 29 years of breeding for the trait. This year’s rams had an average DPF of 711.
His top sire on sale this month had a DPF of 1028 – ranked third in the country.
Gordon said the prevalent theory that breeding for worm resistance stunts growth rates in sheep is wrong, and his work has proven his point.
Genetic tests showed his Sheep Improvement (SIL) growth index increased from 150 in the year 2000 to 1300 in 2018.
The final sale of his flock including lambs and ewes will take place at the Wellsford Saleyards on February 24. Gordon hopes it will be opened by Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor.