Focusing on improving fertility within the flock is paying off for Pooncarie Dorper producer Wayne Smith.
Mr Smith runs about 5000 Dorper and White Dorper ewes across his 60,000 hectare property, Karoola.
He splits his ewes into two groups which each lamb every eight months, or twice over three years, to ensure a continuous cycle.
Any ewe that scans dry can then be moved to the other group to be rejoined straight away, he said.
Mr Smith has also been using electronic identification for the last four years which has helped him to cull ewes that are not performing.
He now has a three-strike policy, with any ewe scanning dry for the third time culled from the flock.
It had been a slow process but it was paying off, with pregnancy scanning rates now up at about 95 per cent.
"We've been dong it long enough now that we're finding ewes that have been through the scan five or six times, some will scan wet five times out of five times," he said.
"She's had five sets of twins but another one will come through and scan every second time pregnant and just a single each time.
"So over her six times she's had three lambs compared to another ewe that's had 10."
So over her six times she's had three lambs compared to another ewe that's had 10.
He said he was also averaging just over 110pc at lamb marking.
"People might say that's not a lot for Dorpers, but that's three times in two years they're doing 110pc," he said.
"I could see the advantage of having a $2 tag in their ear if you're going to pick up an extra six lambs over the life of the sheep."
He also planned to start wetting and drying the ewes at lamb marking.
His operation is based off genetics from Pooncarie-based stud, Dust N Rain, and also Burrawang Dorper and White Dorpers, Ootha.
"They put a lot of work into their rams and it pays," he said.
"They're close to the top of the breed in Australia, as far as I can tell.
"We really do have to have fast-maturing, young sheep to get them out quick.
"We've cut our time in half. We used to sell sucker lambs at 10 months old - we thought they were suckers - but now we can get them off at four, four-and-a-half months old.
"That's just been through the genetic improvement."
The backlog at processors had been a challenge, he said, although he often sent to Hardwicks, Kyneton, Vic, for the 18- to 24-kilogram range.
Seed content was another concern. Although he had not been directly affected, he had heard of truckloads being rejected due to a high level of speargrass seeds in the carcases.
He had been moving lambs out of the speargrass country before it fell, which was usually between October and December.
The area on the banks of the Darling River had provided particularly good feed without the risk of seeds, he said.
"All that country that was underwater was unavailable to us last year, but this year after the flood went off and we had that rain in June, it produced an exceptional amount of clover and spinach," he said.
"It's just drying off now but it's been a real benefit to us to throw some lambs in there and finish them off."
It had been an unusual season, with about 100 millimetres of rain falling in June out of the 200mm year-to-date total, and the country was faring well.
Mr Smith also harvests rangeland goats in a bid to try and control numbers, which depended on the season but he usually sent between 8000 and 15,000 a year.
Like the sheep, it was a matter of using whichever processor had room.
"We've been lucky with Bourke, they've been booked out for four to six weeks then they've been ringing up and they'll have someone who can't supply a load," he said.
"It's only a couple of days notice."
He mustered in cooler weather and used water traps during summer.
"When they were worth pretty good money they were a big part of our income," he said.
"Now that's changed a bit. Last year we went from over $9 a kilo to back to $2.20 - that's a fair comback.
"That's been a real fall from grace but we can't really not sell them - they'd just take over."
Another long-term project was to move existing fences to make better use of the country, he said.
"It's been paying dividends with stock-proof fences," he said.
"The old, traditional paddocks were just fenced up in big, square blocks.
"The hard country to muster, we've fenced that out of our good sheep country and the goats end up fenced out of the good country and fenced into the harder country.
'We've ended up with a few odd shaped paddocks but they're actually easier to muster because you're fencing a lot of the scrub out of the paddocks.
"If we didn't have goats we'd probably have more sheep but I'm a bit hesitant to put sheep in some of the country where the goats live."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.