TYRANNY of distance was not a problem for Shannon Mayfield and the performance of his 1.5-year-old Border Leicester-Merino ewes earlier this month at the annual Naracoorte blue-ribbon sale.
The 332 Inverbrackie-sired ewes came all the way from Shannon's Kimba property to the ever-popular South East sale to sell for $200 - right up there with some of the best sheep penned from local breeders at the market that day.
Considering it was the first time Shannon had sold sheep through the Naracoorte sale, this was a pretty outstanding result.
Shannon farms about 4000 hectares with his wife Shenae, made up of owned, leased and sharefarmed properties across the Kimba, Darke Peak and Waddikee districts.
He stepped into first-cross production to help with cashflow.
"When we first started farming, cashflow was a real issue," he said.
"Breeding Merinos where you had to go a year without getting a lamb out of them didn't fit.
"First-cross production suited better than the crossbred lamb job because you have other aspects of marketing ewe lambs."
Shannon buys in Merino ewes from various breeders and the Cleve off-shears sale as 5.5-year-olds - with a flock of about 1200 at the moment - which are then mated to the Inverbrackie sires from the Arney family's Strathalbyn stud.
Shannon said he selected those rams on figures and, if he could not make the sale, got an agent to check the rams for structural correctness.
"Australian Sheep Breeding Values are the main things we look at," he said.
"The Inverbrackie sheep are right up there nationally with high-indexing figures."
With Inverbrackie principal Lynton Arney and Shannon both past Nuffield Scholars, Shannon said it was easy to make contact with and establish a connection with the stud.
This past season, Shannon tried to market the first-cross ewe lambs on AuctionsPlus. He did not get any response online, and decided to mate the ewes to Poll Dorset rams from Popanyinning, WA, stud Hillcroft, which suited his pursuit for rams with high-indexing figures.
With 130 per cent lambs on the ground, Shannon decided to send those ewes to Naracoorte where he achieved that strong result.
With the aid of stock agent Richard Hill from Eyre Peninsula Livestock and Real Estate, Shannon got the 1.5-year-olds into Southern Australian Livestock's run of sheep.
Despite the $200-a-head return, Shannon said there were some mistakes made and he would like to rectify them next time.
"Our time of shearing is not quite suited to that market and because of the time of year the Naracoorte sales are held, it doesn't suit us as we are harvesting," he said,
"It was a rush to get the sheep organised and they came in a day earlier than they needed to, which might have affected the price.
"The challenge for us is to work out how Naracoorte is going to fit in with our program."
Shannon said he intended to stick with Border Leicesters, but would only decide whether to sell through Naracoorte on a year-by-year basis.
"I don't see the point in sending sheep that far that aren't properly prepared," he said.
* Full report in Stock Journal, November 28 issue, 2013.