Meat, fertility boost

Meat, fertility boost


Sheep
Mixed age Dorper ewes with lambs at "Eden Valley"Trundle

Mixed age Dorper ewes with lambs at "Eden Valley"Trundle

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PRODUCTIVITY is the one word Ben Kerin uses to describe the benefits of his Dorper flock.

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PRODUCTIVITY is the one word Ben Kerin uses to describe the benefits of his Dorper flock.

"Dorpers convert herbage to meat efficiently and you can set your watch on their productive capabilities," he said.

"Seasons have no influence on their reproductive cycles.

"They readily rejoin with a lamb at foot at any time of the year and scanning percentages are always within a per cent or two of each other."

Mr Kerin and partner Katie Morrison run 1500 Dorper ewes and 80 Angus females on the 2000-hectare aggregation based on "Eden Valley", just west of Trundle with Mr Kerin's father, Barrie.

The Kerin family has been mixed-farmers in the district for more than a century and Barrie Kerin was one of the first in the district to become a dedicated meat sheep producer when he brought the first Poll Dorsets to Trundle in the 1970s.

The change from second-cross prime lamb production to straight Dorper began four to five years ago after Ben Kerin completed a holistic management course.

He had also noticed lamb buyers competing for Dorpers at Forbes saleyards where the British and Australian crossbred lamb pens were fetching just one bid.

"The course certainly changed my direction a little and dad has always had a willingness for change and supported me in the move," he said.

They gradually scaled back cropping, stopping two years ago, and have left paddocks to re-establish to natural pastures while moving into plan grazing with established water points and fencing.

"The beauty of Dorpers is they will convert to meat anything that grows," Mr Kerin said.

"With controlled grazing weeds are not a problem and the natural pastures will control them as well."

The family runs three mobs of 500 ewes that are joined 11 weeks apart.

"One mob is joined for six weeks and the rams then have a five week break at which time the mob is scanned and the next mob is joined," Mr Kerin said.

"This gives us an eight-month cycle for the three mobs before it all starts again."

Ewes in each mob have the capacity of three lambings in a two year period.

"It also evens the supply of lambs throughout the year," he said.

"Rams are put in with ewes when their lambs are three months old and it just works out perfectly."

Rams are purchased annually at the Dubbo National show and sale.

"We began with White Dorpers but have switched to the black headed Dorper," Mr Kerin said.

"It seems to be a common trend these days.

"There was an earlier resistance to the Dorper, especially at saleyards, but people seem to have got over that now."

Mr Kerin said the Dubbo National sale was the best venue to buy quality rams for the self-replacing flock.

"We haven't had to cull ewes for age as yet, but we have enough maidens each year that would fit the bill as replacements when it gets to that time," Mr Kerin said.

"It will be a cheaper conversion than when we had to replace our first-cross ewes, which were always dearer when you needed replacements."

Mr Kerin said he would prefer to sell lambs over the hook.

"This way you know what price you are getting paid for per kilo, but you have to lock in a bit earlier and then you need to build a B-double load," he said.

However, he said there was a greater acceptance of Dorpers at Forbes saleyards these days and specialist buyers look for them for restaurant clients.

"So it's just a bit easier to go through the yards."

The family concentrates on producing kilograms a hectare and sells their lambs at 20 to 22kg dressed weight at five months of age mostly straight off their mothers.

"At least two-thirds go to sale off their mothers," he said.

Dorpers are a perfect fit with holistic management, according to Mr Kerin, who said Dorpers enabled him to adjust numbers with seasons and convert grass to meat.

The story Meat, fertility boost first appeared on Farm Online.

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