IT WAS a desire to move away from mulesing which prompted Tim Watts to breed White Dorpers.
Mr Watts and his wife Janet, “Gowrie”, south of Tamworth, run about 700 purebred, full-shedding White Dorper ewes on his 780-hectare property, and he says they are an easy-care breed.
Mr Watts used to run Merinos and crossbreds, but he said about eight years ago he was looking for a change.
“We wanted an easy-care animal,” he said.
He also wanted an animal which could handle dry conditions, as well as the hilly country on his property, which reaches as high as 1100 metres above sea level.
He said running White Dorpers had allowed him to reduce his drenching which in turn reduces chemical input, as well as eliminating the need to shear or mules his sheep.
Mr Watts said he was also conscious of ethical lamb production, and therefore does not dock lambs’ tails.
“It is one less thing to do, and it is unnecessary,” he said.
Mr Watts bought his rams last year from Cherilyn Lowe, Nomuula White Dorper stud, Moonbi.
Up until this point he has had set joining times, with ewes usually lambing going into winter, but he said he was planning to run the 12 rams with the ewes all year round.
He said he was also interested in introducing Dorper at some point.
Lambs are grass-fed, and supplemented with pellets to finish. Some ewe lambs are kept as replacements, while the rest of Mr Watts’ lambs are sold in groups of 50 at a time through the Tamworth abattoir to Thomas Foods International.
He said the lambs must reach 22 kilograms carcase weight in order to be sold.
He said the lambs do not require regular drenching.
Mr Watts said he had not had many fence problems with the White Dorpers, due to the fact he handles his flock very gently and uses a well-trained Border Collie dog.
A rotational grazing program has allowed Mr Watts to keep worm problems to a minimum.
He said wild dogs and foxes had been a problem with his flock, and he baits regularly.