Improving fertility with Aussie Whites at The Rock

Increasing fertility with Aussie Whites at The Rock

Sheep
LOW-MAINTENANCE BREED: Dave Walker has been able to increase lambing rates with Aussie Whites, producing sucker lambs with minimal inputs.

LOW-MAINTENANCE BREED: Dave Walker has been able to increase lambing rates with Aussie Whites, producing sucker lambs with minimal inputs.

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Aussie Whites were the perfect fit in Dave Walker's quest for a low-maintenance maternal breed.

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FOR Riverina lamb producers Dave and Alex Walker, Aussie Whites were the perfect fit in their quest for a low-maintenance maternal breed.

The Walkers have been using Aussie White genetics for six years, and currently run 2500 ewes at Luxton, The Rock.

They've had a self-replacing flock for more than four decades, with wool being the main focus, but they started looking into other options a few years ago.

They tried Wiltipolls over their first-cross ewes, but realised they'd need to be able to breed year-round to make the most of the premium sucker market.

The fertility of the Aussie White breed made it a perfect fit for the operation.

"The low-maintenance is what attracted us to Aussie White, and the Wiltipolls are only seasonal breeders, but because we have four lambings a year we needed something that would join up at any time," Mr Walker said.

All young ewes are joined to Aussie Whites and older ewes are joined to Charollais and Poll Dorset rams.

"It's a slow process breeding the wool off them, and we're still having to shear a few, but our goal is have 100 per cent Aussie White ewes, then join them to Charollais and Poll Dorsets, to get the hybrid vigour that comes with the cross," Mr Walker said.

Mr Walker's main focus when selecting rams is structure and conformation.

He's been using Bungarley genetics and said he's looking for black feet to limit foot issues as well as good shedding ability.

Australian White sheep breeder Dave Walker, Luxton, The Rock.

Australian White sheep breeder Dave Walker, Luxton, The Rock.

"Bungarley sheep have all got nice black feet, and that's consistent through their sheep," he said.

"They've all got good structure, a nice square shape, with a good backend."

The improved season will allow the Walkers to increase numbers.

"We've just had the best autumn I can remember. We're starting to rebuild but it's a bit slow because we're self replacing."

They're good doers. Even in drought, they were overweight. - Dave Walker, Luxton, The Rock

Lambing percentages have increased each year, which comes down to the breed as well as management prior to joining.

"They do well on a small amount of feed and they can get too fat, so we don't want them overfat coming up to joining," Mr Walker said.

"They're good doers. Even in drought, they were overweight."

Pastures include clovers, ryegrass and lucerne, and the Walkers also grow wheat, oats and canola for grazing. Lambs are turned off at five months, and usually sold through the Wagga Wagga saleyards.

"They're anywhere from 23kg to 26kg.

"We want to get them off the property as soon as possible. Sucker money is pretty easy money, with minimal inputs - there's no shearing and no feeding."

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