SELECTING rams for good growth and clean fleece weight has helped Guyra woolgrowers David and Lynette Taylor increase their wool cut by a kilogram.
The Taylors manage Wandsworth properties Keston and Wiluna for Frank and Jill Spilsbury, running cattle at Wiluna and 4000 head of sheep at Keston.
They join about 1500 ewes and run about 1500 wethers, which they keep to two years of age before selling them to a restocker.
The sheep are run on mostly native grasses, which is fertilised with superphosphate every year.
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The production uses rams from the McLaren family’s Nerstane Merinos at Woolbrook, as well as Petali stud at Walcha.
“We've been buying Nerstane sheep because they're productive,” Mr Taylor said.
“They’re good commercial sheep that thrive in all conditions and perform, and we get very few culls from them.
“The Petali sheep are a bit finer and they’re more muscly being polls, so it’s a good mix for us.
“All rams have to be able to walk and eat and I know that with Nerstane and Petali, they're good sound sheep that can get around without any worries.”
When selecting rams, Mr Taylor looks for an animal with good growth, good clean fleece weight, and worm egg count no higher than -20.
Fertility is also a focus, with marking at 98 per cent last year.
“We were getting around 85pc to 90pc a decade ago, and 116pc in 2017,” he said.
“Last year was the first year under 100pc for about five years.”
We sell ewes at 5½ years as replacements for Merino flocks or they go into terminal operations.
There’s usually plenty of competition for them, as soon as you mentioned they're Nerstane blood, that suits a lot of people.
The focus on fertility has allowed Mr Taylor to develop a quality breeding program, attracting restocker attention.
“We’re trying to breed a productive animal that produces good wool for us, but they’ve got to reproduce,” he said.
“We sell ewes at 5½ years as replacements for Merino flocks or they’ll go into terminal operations.
“There’s usually plenty of competition for them, as soon as you mentioned they're Nerstane blood, that suits a lot of people.
“We’ve had the same producer buy our wethers over the last few years too.
“He likes them as two-year-olds, so we get a lamb cut and one adult fleece before they’re sold.”
Wool cut has been a priority for the Taylors, with last year’s August shearing averaging 17-micron and four kilograms across the hoggets and adult sheep.
”That’s an increase from 3kg over the past seven years, so it’s a big boost in the productivity of the sheep,” Mr Taylor said.
“It was a good wool year and we averaged $81 a head for all our wool.”