Leon and Wendy Black of Blackdale Stud


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2022 Finalist: Leon and Wendy Black from Blackdale Stud – Sheep

Located against the picturesque backdrop of Riverton, Blackdale Stud is one of the biggest family run stud sheep operations in NZ.

The Blacks have worked this land for almost 100 years, with Leon and Wendy now at the helm, grazing more than 5,000 animals on 370ha.

Founded in 1970, Blackdale Stud aims to produce the best sheep genetics in the country. The family’s efforts have paid off over the years, with Blackdale’s well-respected sheep genetics attracting many visitors from NZ and around the world.

To achieve this goal, the Blacks have a laser focus on biosecurity. They run a closed flock, bring in just a few sires every year, plus use AI.

Keeping animals healthy and happy is another crucial element. The property features wide shelterbelts, plenty of shade trees and water in every paddock. Race networks and interchanges connect every paddock to make it easier to move the stock. And, to protect stock and pasture from the worst of the winter elements, they feed animals in two wintering sheds.

They have a strong data-led approach to management, guided by detailed farm plans. The data collected includes testing sire groups for methane emissions, and continuously measuring nutrient loss.

A lot of energy is put into ongoing environmental improvements, including water quality. Water is monitored across the all-grass system, while almost all waterways are fenced off. Several years ago, they developed a wetland that acts as a nutrient trap and bird life has flourished.

Blackdale Stud is not just a business to the inter-generational family behind it – it’s their home and they take a lot of pride getting the best outcomes from what can be a challenging environment. By balancing profitability with a sustainable approach, they will continue this into the future.

Leon and Wendy were winners of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award and Massey University Innovation Award

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