23 Sep 2016

Bleeding Blighters

From Country Life, 9:14 pm on 23 September 2016
Romney breeder Gordon Levet

Romney breeder Gordon Levet Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Gordon Levet farms sheep in a place that's not at all sheep-friendly.  

It's hot and humid where he lives near Wellsford and is the ideal breeding ground for parasites.

In fact Gordon's  forebears, who farmed on the same piece of land, used to loose 50 per cent of their lambs to the dreaded Barber's Pole worm.

"Barber's Pole worm is about as big as one of your eyebrows and about as thick. And it has a spiral of red running up it like a barber's pole," Gordon says.

"And of course that red is blood."

He says each Barber's Pole worm can suck up to a millilitre of blood from a sheep each day and it only takes 500 mature worms to kill an adult animal. Each female worm lays up to 10,000 eggs a day.

"Barber's Pole can kill a healthy animal in a matter of days. They drain the blood and you can cut their throat (the sheep's) and they won't bleed."

Gordon has spent a lifetime breeding parasite resistant sheep that now thrive on his Romney Stud.

He's recently been honoured with the sheep industry's Innovation Award for his achievements.



Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Country Life

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)