On-farm trials to identify top sires

On-farm trials at Valley Vista Poll Dorset stud to identify top sires

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Valley Vista Poll Dorset stud is testing progeny and sire lines to identify top performing sires.

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2019 NSW DORSET CHAMPIONSHIPS: James Scott with Valley Vista 493/18 and Joe Scott with Valley Vista Park 116/18.

2019 NSW DORSET CHAMPIONSHIPS: James Scott with Valley Vista 493/18 and Joe Scott with Valley Vista Park 116/18.

THE Scott family has doubled its views, as well as its sheep flock, in 2020.

The Valley Vista Poll Dorset stud home base at Coolac, NSW, is now also accompanied by Clearview via Tarcutta, NSW.

Clearview adds yet another element to the multi-faceted business, which includes not only the Poll Dorset stud, but a Charolais stud, pregnancy scanning, hay and silage contracting and commercial sheep and cattle.

Valley Vista co-principal Andrew Scott said one of the biggest benefits of purchasing the new property was the increased scope to progeny test and trial sire lines.

Valley Vista Poll Dorset rams are being used over a number of different Merino bloodlines and homebred composites are run on the 810-hectare Clearview in strictly commercial conditions.

Mr Scott said the opportunity to further test and assess the sires they breed is invaluable to the operation, and their clients.

"Being able to have a bigger scale commercial side of the business gives us another string in the bow," he said.

"We now have the opportunity to test things out and make sure they stack up.

"We can see firsthand the lambing ease and growth rates our rams can provide to a flock by joining them to maiden Merinos as well as our homebred composites. By running ewes in different mobs we can see and record growth rate and finishing ability, and down the track we are going to be able to run different sire lines and use these results in our genetic decision making."

Pregnancy scanning at the end of May bodes well for a successful first season at Clearview, with the Merino ewes scanning at 171 per cent, and the homebred composites at 174pc.

Ewes have been scanned for first cycle joining and will now run in single or multiple lambing mobs, with the focus turning to best practice management for optimum lamb survival and lamb weaning rates.

Scanning for a single cycle, as well as for multiples, increases the ease of management considerably.

"It gives us the opportunity to wean lambs at the optimum time, rather than them being at more varied ages, and in turn we can time all our stock management accordingly," Mr Scott said.

Back at the stud's base in Coolac, still the key focus of the operation, this year's sale rams are enjoying improved seasonal conditions after two of the driest years the property has seen.

"This year we will offer more sale rams at 12 months of age, which is in line with both what our clients are chasing and improvement of seasonal management practices at Coolac," Mr Scott said.

"The benefit to clients is they are getting access to rams younger, meaning they can tap into our best genetics at an earlier age, as well as being able to use those rams for an extra period over their lifetime."

In recent years stud sires from Springwaters, Tattykeel and Derrynock have been purchased to add to the 1000-ewe flock, and Valley Vista's Joe Scott said this had incorporated a good mix of modern phenotype and positive data.

"We are noticing a swing in our client base into the new generation farmers wanting more information available to them when they purchase the rams, and we are aiming for this mix of sires to provide that for our clients while maintaining our studs breeding objectives," he said.

And while the stud remains the focus, diversification has been crucial with the Scotts Scanning and contract haymaking businesses providing off-farm income.

The Scotts pregnancy scan more than 300,000 sheep each year, allowing them insight into different operations across a wide region.

"The off-farm interests allow us to always be in communication with our clients. We are always informed with what's happening in the area and the industry, and it helps us be on the front foot with what our clients are chasing," Joe said.

Clearview isn't the only new addition to the family's operation, with investment in infrastructure at Valley Vista also recent priority. A new ram selling centre was debuted in 2019, and new ProWay sheep yards are one of the most exciting improvements for the stud, to be completed by the end of June.

"Over the next few weeks, the completion of the ProWay sheep yards will allow all our stock work to be done at a higher standard with the highly regarded set-up, allow better and more precise data and information collection as well as health and welfare of animals," Joe said.

"These facilities, as well as integration of farm and stud stock data management tools and software will improve ease of management, and increase the quality and quantity of information available to clients."

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