Tenalba breeding stock that 'do the job'

Tenalba Border Leicesters breeding stock that do the job

Business Profiles

Phil Russell runs Tenalba Border Leicesters and he's been in the stud game for most of his life.



Tenalba Border Leicester stud has always had the goal to produce a sire that will breed the best prime lamb dam.

The stud was established at Canowindra, NSW, in 1976 and Phil Russell became the sole proprietor of the stud in 1995.

It was founded with 10 ewes from the Papworth brothers' Galwarri stud, six ewes from Ray Harper's Cadell stud and two sires, one from Cadell and one from Frank Richen's Richenco stud.

Originally breeding rams for the family property and selling any surplus, Tenalba now produces 70 to 100 rams annually.

The flock now mates 120 to 140 ewes and the classed ewe lambs - usually around 55 - annually.

Mr Russell said weaning percentages were usually 160-170 per cent, which allowed for heavy culling of all age groups.

He said any mature ewe pregnancy testing empty or not rearing a lamb was culled, while ewe lambs which pregnancy tested empty were given one more joining.

"This year the mature ewes pregnancy tested 98pc in lamb - 207pc foetuses to ewes joined - from a 41-day joining, and the ewe lambs 66pc in lamb - 115pc foetuses to lambs joined - from a 22-day joining," he said.

Mr Russell said after taking over, he felt that the product was phenotypically sound, but thought there was more to a meat sheep than "what's on the outside".

"This lead to the Tenalba flock joining Lambplan and utilising their genetic evaluation service," he said.

"Joining Lambplan was one way of benchmarking the animals within the flock."

He said giving animals Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) enabled him to select animals that best suited particular production systems.

He is still using Lambplan ASBVs within his flock but not index values.

He believes index values can be a distraction which distorts an animal's true worth in some production systems.

He believes the best way to use Lambplan is by solely using the ASBVs.

"Selecting the ASBVs that are most relevant to your production system allows you to hit your market targets quicker, with more animals potentially meeting consumer specifications," he said.

Mr Russell said selecting sheep that had a good balance of ASBVs led to a ewe that allowed for the diversity of different production systems.

He said he single-sire mated all ewes, so he had excellent pedigrees on progeny.

He tags twice a day during lambing so he can get accurate pedigree information and birth weighs to record data for birth weight ASBVs.

Lambs are weighed again at weaning and at post weaning when ultrasound scanning of fat depth and eye muscle depth takes place.

He said he believes ASBVs should only be reported for sheep that have actually been recorded for these traits which currently was not what happens.

"While I believe Lambplan is a great tool to have available, it is not more important than breed phenotype," he said.

"Having the correct structure, wool and constitution is a necessity."

He said Tenalba had a thorough vaccination program.

All sheep are vaccinated with Gudair, 6 in 1, Scabby Mouth and Eryvac.

They are also in the Ovine Brucellosis Accreditation Scheme, and the Ovine Johne's Disease Market Assurance Program - the flock being MN3V.

Mr Russell said he moved his marketing to an on-property ram sale in 1999.

"This avails everyone the opportunity to have first pick of the rams," he said.

"This is the fairest system as the sale allows all clients to pick from all of the sale rams."


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