A Nyngan family's commitment to hang on to their core White Dorper flock through three years of drought was rewarded in a big way on Tuesday when they broke an AuctionsPlus breed record for an offering of commercial White Dorper ewes.
Andrew and Alison Kennedy with Rob and Marina Kennedy of Canonbar Pastoral Company sold 280 scanned in lamb ewes for $420/head to a Goodooga client of Nutrien during the National Sheep Sale.
Their agent Luke Scales of Nutrien Russell said there had been strong interest in the ewes prior to the sale but they didn't expect them to reach such high levels.
"We were thinking $370 of $380 would be a big sale," he said.
"Fortunately we have seen meat sheep experience some pretty big highs just of late.
"They are pretty sort after and numbers are particularly low so restocker ewes are keenly sought after especially of those quality."
The Kennedys run about 6000 Dorper ewes across the 16,000 acre property Canonbar and 5000 acres at Gudgery Park.
It was about 10 years ago when their father, Rodney Kennedy, suggested they transition from running a first cross flock of Border Leicester rams and Merino ewes to White Dorper genetics.
Their record breaking ewes were put up for sale as surplus to their flock needs.
"We have had a pretty good lambing this year and we'll try to keep a big run of maiden ewes," Andrew Kennedy said.
Things have well and truly turned around for the Kennedys after battling through dry conditions since 2017. But decent rain finally arrived in February this year with the tally now just under 400 millimetres.
In the drought about one third of their ewes were trucked to agistment at Tilpa and the remaining ewes were fed at home.
Their program is focused on fertility and production and each group of ewes follows a set joining, scanning and lambing program.
Their autumn lambing ewes began dropping progeny in the start of April to mid May and were rejoined on May 19.
From that, 86.5 per cent were scanned pregnant to lamb again from October 11 to the end of November with 48 per cent or 745 twinners and 38 per cent or 599 carrying singles. The remaining 211 were dry to be re-joined.
In total 1555 ewes had 2089 foetus resulting in a 134 per cent pregnancy rate for the mob.
Those same ewes weaned 118 per cent or 1845 April/May born lambs in August with the entire drop averaging 44.1 kilograms following a 24 hour curfew off their mothers.
Mr Kennedy said it was an exceptional result.
"It's a massive change," he said.
"Obviously we went backwards considerably through the drought financially and I suppose all the expenses that went out feeding and agisting we are getting a little bit back now, clawing back now."
Their lambs are sent to Thomas Foods with the intention of achieving a carcase weight of 20 kilograms or more.
Their flock is based on Burrawang bloodlines with the record breaking ewes scanned in lamb to Etiwanda and Kaya rams.
"We thought it was pretty extraordinary but we have put a lot of money into the breeding of the ewes and trying to select carefully and select good quality rams," Andrew Kennedy said.
"I suppose it was again a little reward for the effort and expense we put into them."
The family has installed about 150 kilometres of Westonfence, which has made running their flock very easy.
"It is absolutely brilliant for helping us run the Dorpers and run them properly and be able to do set joinings and scanning and work on our fertility and be able to run them probably," he said.
It was another an encouraging idea from Rodney Kennedy.
At 80 years old he has taken on the role of chief fence maintainer and has the important role of checking the lines.