Farm­ers con­sider ge­netic op­tions

Narrogin Observer - - Observer News - Bob Gar­nant

Merino ram sur­vey­ors chas­ing im­proved ge­net­ics for their stud and com­mer­cial flocks were im­pressed with the qual­ity at last week’s Nar­ro­gin Long Wool Day.

Look­ing over the 32 par­tic­i­pat­ing stud dis­play, Year­ling farm­ing cou­ple Brad and Vir­ginia Ni­cholls took time off their busy hand­feed­ing sched­ule to go through the ram shed as they de­cide on their next sire op­tions.

“We breed our own flock rams and in­tro­duce im­proved ge­net­ics through care­fully se­lect­ing a top sire, which is why we at­tended the in­spec­tion day to­day,” Mr Ni­cholls said.

The Ni­cholls run 2400 pure Merino breed­ers at their Morlup farm and have been hand feed­ing since sum­mer be­cause of the dry sea­son.

Mr Ni­cholls, who also runs a sheep scan­ning busi­ness, said there were big num­bers of twins born this sea­son be­cause of the favourable sea­son last year.

“More sheep pro­duc­ers are us­ing the ben­e­fits of scan­ning to bet­ter man­age mul­ti­ple births,” he said. “The im­proved sheep and wool mar­ket is urg­ing pro­duc­ers to lift pro­duc­tion through flock man­age­ment to­wards in­creased num­bers of lambs marked which is pay­ing div­i­dends.

“We had over 105 per cent lamb­ing on our two prop­er­ties this year and our hop­ing for an im­proved sea­son with present concerns of sum­mer feed.”

Vis­it­ing the shed for the first time, Ken­de­nup farm­ing cou­ple Peter and Pauline Bunker were also stu­dious on where their next ge­netic im­prove­ment would come from.

The Bunkers run 4000 Merino breed­ing ewes split into half with 2000 to­wards a self-re­plac­ing flock and the bal­ance used as a cross breed­ing pro­gram us­ing Poll Dorset rams. “We breed our own flock rams and are look­ing for sheep with good con­for­ma­tion and wool that is free grow­ing, long sta­pled, white with good nour­ish­ment,” Ms Bunker said. “We are very pleased with the wool mar­ket and re­ceived our best ever price for our March shorn clip.”

The Bunkers run a busy farm­ing pro­gram with a 50-50 crop/ live­stock en­ter­prise mixed with sheep and cat­tle.

Also tak­ing stock at Nar­ro­gin, Narem­been sheep pro­ducer Joe Hickey, who runs be­tween 40004500 Merino ewes with his wife Karen, mother Rhonda and brother Bren­dan, on their 60-40 crop­ping/sheep farm.

“We breed our own flock rams through a nu­cleus flock of up to 300 ewes and se­lect sires that can stand up to harsh con­di­tions — big, plain types that cut plenty of 22 mi­cron wool,” Mr Hickey said.

“Af­ter sev­eral years of im­port­ing South Australia ge­net­ics via both live and se­men sires, we have been se­lect­ing WA sires for the last 15 years.

“Man­ag­ing our flock against a dry sea­son will be a con­cern up to our shear­ing in February, hop­ing the wool cut will main­tain our av­er­age of 8.5kg for Merino ewes.”

Dar­i­jon Merino stud prin­ci­pal Richard Chadwick, of Nar­ro­gin, who dis­played rams at Nar­ro­gin, said the day was well at­tended.

“We had the most Meri­nos and Poll Merino rams penned up since the be­gin­ning of this event,” he said.

Mr Chadwick has been a par­tic­i­pant of the Long Wool Day since its con­cep­tion and said it has pro­gressed with the times.

Pic­tures: Bob Gar­nant

Frank, 1, and Sally Bock, 3, of Pingerup, were in­spect­ing a Poll Merino ram.

Year­ling pro­duc­ers Brad and Vir­ginia Ni­cholls.

Narem­been com­mer­cial sheep pro­ducer Joe Hickey.

Nar­ro­gin ram breeder Richard Chadwick, of Dar­i­jon Merino stud.

Ken­de­nup pro­duc­ers Pauline and Peter Bunker.

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