Organic status at Nonning Station

Organic status at Nonning Station


Sheep
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IT is quiet across the boards at Nonning Station, but a switch from wool to sheepmeat has put the McTaggart family enterprises on a more sustainable footing.

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Angus McTaggart (inset) likes Merinos and the wool industry, but says smaller returns from a very labour-intensive operation made the switch to White Dorpers necessary.

Angus McTaggart (inset) likes Merinos and the wool industry, but says smaller returns from a very labour-intensive operation made the switch to White Dorpers necessary.

IT is quiet across the boards at Nonning Station, but a switch from wool to sheepmeat has put the McTaggart family enterprises on a more sustainable footing.

The last big shearing was 18 months ago at the Gawler Ranges property following the slow process of breeding up a 30,000 White Dorper enterprise from a base Merino flock.

Frozen embryos were imported from South Africa 12 years ago and the initial 40 lambs produced have been bred-up on Nonning and Uno Stations.

With the need for shearing and fly-control chemicals eliminated, the stations have obtained organic status.

As manager of Nonning for 16 years, Angus McTaggart has been involved in the wool industry his whole life, so the decision to make the switch to Dopers for meat was financial, rather than a emotional.

"I still liked the Merinos and the wool industry," he said.

But with smaller returns for a very labour-intensive operation, a change was necessary.

When exploring alternatives to wool, White Dorpers presented the most viable avenue from limited available options for the 4000-square kilometre pastoral leases.

Running goats was not an option, as in other states such as New South Wales, because of their declared pest status.

The properties do not have enough water to sustain cattle and new infrastructure would be too expensive.

"We had the Merino ewe base so it made sense to breed-up White Dorpers," Angus said.

At the time, some pastoralists were switching over to Damaras which had strong overseas markets.

"I liked the look of the Dorpers and thought it was a safer bet than the live export market."

* Full report in Stock Journal, September 9 issue.

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