Love of wool runs in Dohertys' veins

Peter Doherty just loves wool, and it shows

Sheep
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The Doherty brothers at Goolma are always keen to improve their Merino flock.

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TEAM EFFORT: Mark Doherty, Klondyke, Goolma, Peter Doherty, Roine, Goolma, and Luke Fitzgerald, Macdonald and Co, Dubbo.

TEAM EFFORT: Mark Doherty, Klondyke, Goolma, Peter Doherty, Roine, Goolma, and Luke Fitzgerald, Macdonald and Co, Dubbo.

Peter Doherty used to be a shearer. Now he spends his days and years running Merinos.

Why? Because he loves wool. And he came by it honestly. His father bred Merinos, and now he and his brothers Mark and Colin run a flock together.

Mr Doherty and his wife Tina, Roine, Goolma, run 810 hectares, and share a further 800ha with his brothers. Together they run about 3000 ewes, but they are kept as two separate self-replacing flocks.

One flock is joined to rams from Allendale Merino stud, Wellington, while the other is joined to rams from Trynow Merino stud, Goolma. The micron is very similar - around 18 micron.

You've got to get off your own farm and go and look around. You've got to look over your neighbour's fence. You've got to keep trying to improve. - Peter Doherty, Goolma

Mr Doherty said the family had been buying rams from Trynow stud for 30 years.

"The [Trynow and Allendale] stud principals' breeding is what we want," he said. "We get the rams we want."

Mr Doherty is aiming for good structure in his Merinos, and good feet, as well as high fertility.

GOOD STRUCTURE: The Dohertys' maiden ewes at scanning.

GOOD STRUCTURE: The Dohertys' maiden ewes at scanning.

"When we scanned the ewes, half of them have twins," he said. "They are good mums."

He is also focused on a longer staple in the wool. "We need a fair bit of nutrition in the wool," he said. "Because we do a fair bit of farming, we get a bit of dust in the wool."

Mr Doherty said there were obvious advantages to a self-replacing flock.

"It means we don't bring problems to the place," he said. "We haven't had to dip sheep in ages."

They shear once a year in May, cutting about 100 millimetres staple length. Each ewe cuts about six kilograms of wool.

"I'm really happy with the micron and the cut," he said.

HIGH FERTILITY: Three-, four- and five-year-old ewes at Roine, Goolma. The Dohertys aim for good structure and feet, and high fertility.

HIGH FERTILITY: Three-, four- and five-year-old ewes at Roine, Goolma. The Dohertys aim for good structure and feet, and high fertility.

He makes sure shearing takes place before the ewes start to lamb in mid to late July. He said he prefers not to lamb ewes in full wool.

"It makes it easier for the lamb to find milk," he said. "And you find the ewes don't get stuck."

They no longer keep wethers long-term, shearing them when they reach about 10 months old.

He said they cut about 4kg of wool, and are sold a few months later through Dubbo saleyards.

Mr Doherty said he got around $150 average for the wethers.

"And they are cutting $45 to $50 worth of wool. So that's $200 per article."

He also joins a small number of ewes to crossbred rams, which lamb in the autumn.

The Dohertys had to get rid of crossbred lambs, older and dry ewes during the drought, but managed to handfeed their main flock of ewes.

"We managed to keep our bloodline. You can't get those genetics back once you sell them," he said.

BEHAVE YOURSELVES: Bella at work in the yards at Roine, Goolma.

BEHAVE YOURSELVES: Bella at work in the yards at Roine, Goolma.

There's always room for improvement

Peter Doherty is always looking to improve his flock.

And the Merino breeder, Roine, Goolma, has found one of the best things he can do to improve his flock is looking at other Merino breeders' sheep.

He and his brothers have been part of the Chris Naake Memorial Flock Ewe Competition in the Mudgee region since it began.

And he said it had made a lot of difference to his flock.

"You've got to get off your own farm and go and look around and talk to other breeders," Mr Doherty said.

"You've got to look over your neighbour's fence. If you think you've got no problems, you need to have a look around. You've got to keep trying to improve."

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