Shelter belts save winter-born lambs

Shelter belts save winter-born lambs

Dean Howard with a mob of twin-bearing ewes who successfully raised their lambs within the paddock shelter belts.

Dean Howard with a mob of twin-bearing ewes who successfully raised their lambs within the paddock shelter belts.


Preparing lambing paddocks with lots of protection saved lambs at Wantabadgery.


It is the ambition of every sheep producer to have a successful lambing, no matter the season or the breed.

With the potential of good returns for early early season lambs, producers who are not willing to leave their lambing ewes to chance have the opportunity for greater rewards.

Dean Howard, Tufnell Park, Wantabadgery is one producer who has taken 'luck' out of the equation and reduced lamb losses during his late autumn/winter lambing period to a bare minimum.

Mr Howard is in the family partnership with his wife, Kellie, mother-in-law Charmaine Halloran and her son Matthew Howard.

Every extra second cross prime lamb born and saved through to sale simply adds value to the families enterprise bottom line without a lot of extra cost or effort.

Mr Howard takes part in the local Lifetime ewe management (LTEM) courses facilitated by Wagga Wagga-based sheep consultant Jim Meckiff.

"It is giving me a better handle on the ewe's requirements, working out what they are getting and what they need at those critical times," Mr Howard said.

"Having them in a good enough condition score to scan a high percentage of multiples and tracking them through pregnancy to pre-lambing."

Mr Howard ensures his ewes have sufficient body condition to go into the lambing paddocks which have been identified and spelled to have pasture available.

"We work out how much feed they have in front of them so the paddocks are ready and we shouldn't have to feed during lambing," he said.

"For the past couple of years we have scanned our ewes into singles and twins, early and late and we have found it has been valuable for pasture utilization."

Mr Howard explained from his eight-week joining most of the lambs are born during the third to fifth weeks, and being able to separate the ewes according to their lambing sequence has ensured an easier lambing management.

"When you know the date lambing will start, you can hold the ewes until that time before you allow them to drift onto the better pasture," he said.

"We also stopped feeding, and only go around the ewes from a distance so they have minimum disturbance."

Mr Howard pointed out he would have still kept feeding grain if he hadn't done the LTEM course, which also highlighted the advantages of lambing multiple bearing ewes in small mobs.

"We have our twins in mobs of no more than 150 ewes," he said.

Mr Howard explained having his lambing start at the beginning of May works best for his business.

"We can finish our lambs during spring when there is more feed on offer and they are all sold before the summer," he said.

"This year we had an early autumn break which set us up with pasture growth before lambing started."

At the time of writing, Mr Howard has just delivered the first draft of lambs straight off their mothers at 12 - 14 weeks: filling a trade contract, the lambs dressed at 22kgs.

Mr Howard purchased Poll Dorset rams from the Rowley family, Springwaters stud, Boorowa and selects rams on visual appraisal for balance and early maturity.

They are joined to home-bred first-cross ewes sired by Border Leicester rams bred at Retallack stud, Ariah Park or North-South stud. Wallendbeen.

The Merino ewes are also home-bred in a self-replacing flock and sired by Winyar Merino rams from Canowindra.

Lambing paddocks have been identified for their pasture growth, but more importantly Mr Howard places emphasis on availability of protection for the new-born lamb.

"We are lucky with over 100,000 trees planted in shelter belts by the owner before us so every paddock has wind breaks plus we have rocky paddocks which give protection for the lamb to get out of the wind," he said.

The attention to his lambing ewes has certainly paid off this year, with Mr Howard recording an average of 140 percent marking across NUMBER first-cross ewes.

"The best we got was 182pc from a mob of twins," he said.

"We didn't have a lot of losses."

Mr Howard attributes the protection of shelter belts, rocks and long grass for the new-born lambs for those few losses, and that was a factor made aware through the LTEM courses.

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