McSpedden's early lamb sell off proves successful tactic

McSpedden's early lamb sell off proves successful tactic

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Frances and Jeff McSpedden from The Lagoon run quite a diverse operation on Springfield.

Frances and Jeff McSpedden from The Lagoon run quite a diverse operation on Springfield.

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With a name like Springfield this highly productive 480 hectares is nothing short of a complete universe.

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Selling lambs earlier rather than later is a successful marketing tactic for Jeff and Frances McSpedden family from The Lagoon.

With a property name like Springfield, it's fair to say their highly productive 480 hectares reflects the tv-show namesake as a complete universe.

Everything from sheep, feed, wool and vegetables make up their business.

The McSpeddens run a self-replacing flock of just under 1500 ewes; half joined to Merino rams and the remaining to Dorset Horn terminal sires. They also have a mob of 200 first cross ewes.

This year they entered the Bathurst Merino Association Maiden Ewe Competition for the first time and placed third overall with the 230 Kerin Poll blood ewes.

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Their sheep are classed by Bryan Seaman, with 22 per cent taken out of the maidens this year.

Breeding lambs is their focus, rather than wool cut.

Breeding lambs is their focus, rather than wool cut.

The McSpeddens like to sell their lambs early to keep grass for sheep the following year.

"We sell them where ever they will do best depending on where the agents find a home for them," he said.

"We like to sell them reasonably young while they are costing us $1 per kilogram to keep, say you have them for 140 days that is $140, but if you carry them over for another 60 days, they start costing you $200.

"We are lambing now and they will be sold before we lock up to go back into irrigated vegetables."

Come November they are planting corn again, and if they were to lamb late winter early spring they would have large numbers of sheep running on less grazing country.

The ideal selling point means they are marketing their lambs when everyone is lambing and while supply is low, and demand is up.

Vegetables come first for the McSpedden family.

Vegetables come first for the McSpedden family.

Breeding lambs is their focus, rather than wool cut.

"$50 per fleece is nowhere near a ewe with twins at $150 to $200 each," Mr McSpedden said.

"Our aim is high fertility so we have been chasing that, and good growth rates.

"Our wool is around the 18 micron or just over. It used to be 17 but we went up a micron because we picked up about 1.5 kilograms of wool."

Regularly doing the numbers, Mr McSpedden said with 17.5 micron wool sitting at 1300 cents and 18.5 micron at 1100 cents, they were going to be ahead with more wool.

"If you multiply it out 4.5kg at 1300 cents ($58.50) verse 5.5kg at 1100 cents ($60.50) you are ahead, so we aren't concerned about the micron," he said.

"The extra wool cut gets us an extra few dollars a head - they're more productive sheep."

Their focus on fertility has them averaging a 125 per cent lambing percentage.

"The maidens scanned at 136pc, adult Merinos at 146pc and adult Merinos joined to terminal sires at 150pc," he said.

"After they lamb we wet and dry them, anything that had a lamb but didn't raise it we get rid off and what you end up with in a few years is a productive mob.

"Scanning, and wet and drying helps build fertility.

"It is important to get rid of the ewes that aren't working for you."

Vegetables come first for the McSpedden family.

They do 130ha a year according and between 64 to 80ha of crop roughly depending on the year.

"Vegetables are number, sheep sales number two, feed production three and wool number four," he said.

"We grow sweet corn for Simplot (Foodservice)... we used to grow lettuce for Maccas (MacDonalds).

"We grow the barley mother seed for Heritage Seeds; we multiply the seed and they sell it to other farms cleaned and bagged."

They have irrigation for the vegetables and said it was hard during the drought with only 20 per cent water allocation.

They don't have many pest and weed burdens, but they are concerned about fall armyworm.

"People have found moths not far away from us so it could be a problem next year, always something to monitor," they said.

The corn stubble is a good feed with the McSpeddens grazing ewes on it before it is ploughed back into the group to build up the humus.

"In a really dry year we bale the stubble and sell it, it is a good feed high in sucrose," he said.

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