IT MAY be tough country on the light soil atop gravel quartz 20 or so kilometres west of Tullamore, especially in this drought, but the Fidock family's concentration on making their Merinos profitable between and among the Iron Bark ridges is quite outstanding.
Like so many other graziers and breeders, the Fidocks have been hand-feeding, but feed ratios among their mixed-sex weaners have been quite phenomenal, according to Ewan Fidock, who with his wife Hailee, are joining 2000 Merino ewes at the moment with Ewans parents, Don and Sandra.
Lambs which have been in an on-farm feedlot since July are growing at a feed conversion ratio of 3.27 to one since weaning.
Three-hundred-and-fifty April-drop mixed-sex weaner lambs were placed into the feedlot at Wilga Plains, from July 1 when 73 days-old.
Mr Fidock said their average weight at weaning was 17.9 kilograms and at 38 days post-weaning the lambs averaged 25.6kg equating to a 3.5:1 feed conversion ratio when fed on CopRice Pellets.
At 64 days post-weaning the lambs' average weight was 33kg, a conversion rate of 3:1.
"Since weaning, the average conversion ratio is 3.27:1, which is far better than any feed conversion information I can find from the Department of Primary Industries," Mr Fidock said.
"With the cost of pellets at $560 a tonne, it has cost $4.25 a kilo of carcase weight to get the lambs to this stage.
"Not bad for Merino lambs."
Mr Fidock said it wasn't that good in the first month.
"I did everything wrong. At weaning the lambs went straight from an oat and canola meal mix pellets they hadn't had before straight into the feedlot.
"I only cleaned the water troughs out every couple of days and put out a bit of lucerne hay every few days for the first 10 days, and then no hay after that for the rest of the month."
However, by adding the roughage, the feed conversion rate dropped from 3.5:1 down to 3:1.
"That's because it slowed down their digestive system allowing more absorption of nutrients from the pellets," he said.
Mr Fidock said the Wilga sheep performance reflects the family's use of Sheep Genetics, which they joined some years ago.
"By selecting rams through Sheep Genetics we have been able to push our post-weaning production through the roof," he said.
"With these sort of lambs we can still make a profit in the drought. That's what we have bred for - to be profitable in tough conditions."