Prime Lamb: Easy care, efficient sheep at Heathfield

Prime Lamb: Easy care, efficient sheep at Heathfield

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The low maintenance of Australian White sheep is one of the breed's biggest attributes, and they're fitting in perfectly in high rainfall, traditionally first-cross country at Bool Lagoon, South Australia.

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LAMB PRODUCTION: Jarrad Simcock with one of his Australian White lambs. Lambs are usually sold on-hooks, to dress out at 20kg to 22kg.

LAMB PRODUCTION: Jarrad Simcock with one of his Australian White lambs. Lambs are usually sold on-hooks, to dress out at 20kg to 22kg.

THE low maintenance of Australian White sheep is one of the breed's biggest attributes, and they're fitting in perfectly in high rainfall, traditionally first-cross country at Bool Lagoon in the South East.

Jarrad and Chelsea Simcock have had Aussie Whites on their 1215-hectare property Heathfield for the past two years, and having a small family with two young boys means the focus is on low labour sheep, with good lambing percentages and strong growth.

Being able to find big numbers has been difficult, but he's sourced many of his ewes through a breeder at Tottenham, NSW.

"We first bought 1300 from him, and a couple of smaller loads through AuctionsPlus, all coming out of NSW," Mr Simcock said.

He's now running about 6000 Aussie White and first-cross ewes, after buying another 1500 Tattykeel-blood ewes, scanned in lamb, from the Tottenham breeder about a month ago.

They also have better doing ability because they're not growing the wool so they're not eating as much feed. - JARRAD SIMCOCK

"Because they were scanned in lamb, our lambings will be off, but with the quality of sheep I can get from him, it's worth a bit of hassle for the next few months," he said.

"I was able to buy his 900 maidens which are third- and fourth-cross, so the lambs will be close to pure Aussie Whites."

Mr Simcock has been sourcing rams from Tattykeel and Victorian stud Gamadale, Lascelles, and said rams were getting better each year.

"Because it's such a new breed, the genetics are getting better every year - I can see it in the rams I have in the paddock," he said.

"I like the Gamadale operation, and they're putting a lot of effort into improving their rams each year."

With the high rainfall, good feet is the biggest priority when selecting rams, along with good frame and structure.

"We're at Bool Lagoon, with a high water table, and flat country, so feet is always a concern, but in last two years I've seen no problems," he said. "They're as good as the first-cross, and having half and half I've been able to see how they compare."

A big advantage on the first-cross ewes was mothering ability, Mr Simcock said.

"They're really good mothers, which can be a bit of a pain when moving and handling, but what we lost in the paddock over lambing was significantly smaller than from the first-cross ewes," he said.

"They also have better doing ability because they're not growing the wool so they're not eating as much feed.

"They're on improved pastures with ryegrass and clovers, but we had a really late break this year, so we supplementary fed a lot, and it was chalk and cheese.

"Over summer we fed for an extra six weeks and I put about $16 a head worth of grain into the first-cross ewes, and about $3 into the Aussie Whites."

EFFICIENT EATERS: Jarrad and Chelsea Simcock are running about 6000 Aussie White and first-cross ewes.

EFFICIENT EATERS: Jarrad and Chelsea Simcock are running about 6000 Aussie White and first-cross ewes.

Lambs are usually sold on-hooks, straight off mum at just over 40 kilograms, to dress out at 20kg to 22kg, or weaned straight onto green feed.

"With the later lambs, we'll put them in a feedlot just to get them to trade weight," Mr Simcock said.

"The feedback (from processors) has been good, as good as the second-cross lambs, but the Aussie White lambs eat less and put more weight on.

"There's scope to run more head per acre, and that's where you really make some money.

"For now, we've got to get a good base of sheep, the good quality that we want, then we can ramp up numbers.

"I can't see why we couldn't run 15 to 20 per cent more sheep and finish them exactly the same way."

Mr Simcock is the only Aussie White breeder in his area, but hopes to change that by selling some of his commercial ewes to producers in the area.

"It would also be interesting to sell suckers to guys wanting to put them on stubble to see how they go against second-cross lambs," Mr Simcock said.

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