An operation better known for its Angus stud has been allocating more time to its commercial sheep operation, with changes in management helping to boost fertility.
Gilmandyke Pastoral, based in Orange, runs between 4000 and 5000 ewes, split evenly back to Merinos and White Suffolk terminal sires.
General manager Wade Peatman said the cattle side of the operation had naturally been the priority, but changes to management in the sheep side of the business was bringing results.
"Really fertility is one thing we've been chasing over the last three years, just getting our lamb marking number up," he said.
"We've moved our lambing time to get out of the real cold of winter here.
"It's a combination of many factors, and general ewe health to get fetuses to start with."
Mr Peatman said shearing had also been moved to January and July.
"The last two years were an absolute nightmare," he said.
"We've actually moved our shearing to suit our shearers so we can guarantee we're going to get them."
The operation stopped mulesing three years ago and the six-monthly shearing was a flow-on effect of that, he said.
The first year non-mulesed had some challenges, including a very wet season and difficulties getting shearers, he said.
"Now we've got our management practices in place, including the inclusion of jetting races, things like that. If we do have flies turn up we can get on top of them really quickly - that's made a big difference," he said.
"The six-monthly shearing does wonders for animal health."
Mr Peatman said the flock traditionally sat at an 18.5 to 19 micron wool clip but they were now selecting rams for staple length.
"We came from a very traditional, heavy cutting Merino base and we've tried to get away from heavy wrinkle, maintain the wool quality but stretch the sheep out to more of a dual-purpose Merino," he said.
The lower prices at stud sales had also worked in their favour for the terminal rams, he said.
"Rather than going and buying the five or six we would normally buy, because the averages are back we took it as an opportunity to upgrade the entire team of White Suffolk rams," he said.
The sheep are run across two properties, the main site at Orange on 3440 hectares and a 1618ha block at Molong.
The operation grows wheat, oats and barley for grazing and fodder and this year also trialled a leafy turnip which brought excellent results for sheep grazing, Mr Peatman said.
Gilmandyke had also invested in two new sets of sheep yards in the last 18 months, including a roof over one of them to make the work more pleasant.
The sheep side of the business was at sustainable numbers and worked in well with the cattle operation, he said.
"Moving lambing and shearing helped. We're lambing ewes when we're not calving so we can spread them out, so we're not fighting each other for paddocks in that regard," he said.
"The sheep are an important part of our job and they work really well in grazing practices to mix them in with the cattle."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.