Ewe drives lamb profits

Ewe drives lamb profits


Sheep
Robert Scott checking a mob of his first-cross ewes on the point of lambing to Poll Dorset rams. "I learnt the ewe is such a big profit driver in the enterprise."

Robert Scott checking a mob of his first-cross ewes on the point of lambing to Poll Dorset rams. "I learnt the ewe is such a big profit driver in the enterprise."

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In his prime lamb operation Robert Scott sticks with the traditional Poll Dorset as his terminal sire over first-cross ewes.

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Purchasing his first-cross ewes from a known source is important for Robert Scott if he is to make his family business profitable going forward.

Mr Scott is the fourth generation of his family to manage “Hillview”, a 1200 hectare property near Cootamundra which is run in conjunction with a further 1200ha near Ariah Park.

On those properties 4200 first cross ewes are joined to Poll Dorset rams, and the sheep enterprise compliments an extensive winter cropping program.

For the past fifteen years, his replacement ewes have been purchased from Graeme Golder at Temora.

“Other ewes have been bought which were not so well bred and they have not performed,” Mr Scott said.

“I have done ewe management courses and I learnt the ewe is such a big profit driver in the enterprise.

“But people concentrate on the ram and forget about the ewe.”

That does not mean Mr Scott neglects the importance of his sires. 

“We know Graeme buys western-bred Merino ewes which are joined to SuperBorder rams with good figures,” he said.

“And to get the most from that breeding we must have well-bred Poll Dorset rams.”

The traditional approach to producing prime lambs fits neatly with Mr Scott’s outlook.

“We are achieving a high lambing percentage and our latest scanning results show the mature ewes to have 160 percent scanned lambs while the average across our whole flock was 140 percent,” he said.

“I have also learnt a lot from participating in a Life Time Ewe Management course where five of us look over each others properties for two years.”

The main thing Mr Scott said he has learnt is keeping his ewes in a condition score for each season throughout the year. 

“You have a score for joining and one for lambing … it is based on maintaining the health of the ewe and allowing her to perform to her optimum.

“Being able to talk openly and confidentially with other producers has been of the most benefit.”

Rams selected for quick finishing

Robert Scott, “Hillview” Cootamundra has been sourcing Poll Dorset rams from the Gooramma stud at Boorowa bred by James Corcoran for the past three years.

“I select rams which are not too big, a well balanced with a moderate froam for ease of lambing,” Mr Scott said.

“I also look at the figures for high fertility and weight gain because I am looking for sires to produce a lot of lambs that will finish quickly for a trade weight.”

Having a split lambing across his two properties allows Mr Scott spread the sale of his lambs for eight to nine months throughout the year.

“We can get our early lambs sold straight of their mothers, and with an earlier spring at Ariah Park we often hit the peak time,” he said.

“Anything left over is fed until they reach heavy weights.” 

Rams are bought from the $800 and $1000 grades as giving Mr Scott the best return for his money spent. 

Based his annual requirements, Mr Scott purchases his rams at eight months old, and joins them immediately.

“We keep our rams for four to five years,” he said

“We get an extra year out of them and although they look small they still grow out and they definitely work!”

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