Focus on maternal traits

Border Leicester-SAMM cross helps Childerley Park produce sheep with good mothering instincts

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Low wool and high prime lamb prices influenced Childerley Park to produce Border Leicester-SAMM first-cross lambs, and the property is reaping the profits.


Childerley Park property manager Brendon Ross found crossing Border Leicesters with SAMMs produced animals that offered good doing ability on their country.

“It produces a really good maternal mother and a medium to large size frame ewe, with that finer crossbred wool,” he said.

Traits Childerley Park aims for in its first–cross ewes include a solid and long ewe and to keep the wool under 28 micron.

Childerley Park sources its genetics from Martin and Kirsty Harvey of Paxton stud, Western Flat, and Rodney and Tracey Willmott of Hanookra, Kingston SE.  

Mr Ross looks for rams that will help him keep his micron down, offer good weaning and growth rates, are low in fat and have plenty of eye muscle.

Childerley Park joins ewes in late December at a rate of one ram per 40 ewes.

They recorded 3.8 per cent dry ewes last season. Mr Ross has stopped mating ewe lambs, which has helped improve that percentage.

He achieved a 132pc lambing percentage last year.

This season, ewes will be fed beans for two weeks prior to and two weeks into joining, to improve conception rates.

Lambing is in late May. Pregnant ewes are put in containment paddocks when their lambing paddocks run out of feed on offer (FOO), in particular clovers and grasses.

Mr Ross lets lambing paddocks grow to 1200kg/ha.

“This year we had a great start; we let the ewes out three weeks before lambing because there was at least 1200kg/ha of FOO,” he said.

Lambs are sold between six and nine months of age, with the aim of 23kg carcaseweight or more than 52kg liveweight.   

Mr Ross sells up to 400 first–cross ewe lambs at the Naracoorte first–cross sale in November. Last year, he sold 300 lambs and averaged $168. 

Childerley Park also sells lambs on-hook, mostly to JBS.

Their lambs achieved up to $170 a head this year. 

The Border Leicester first-cross wool last year made 500 cents/kg to 530c/kg, and each animal cut about 4-5kg of wool.

Childerley Park comprises two properties; a 1600-hectare hectare property at Naracoorte, and a 1000ha property named Bundalong at Coonawarra.

It runs 4500 ewes at Naracoorte and 3500 at Coonawarra.

The Naracoorte property also has 240 Angus-cross cows and Coonawarra has 70ha of vines.

Wool prices influence breed swap

Childerley Park started crossing SAMMs with Border Leicesters about 13 years ago. Property manager Brendon Ross said the farm was crossing Border Leicester rams with Merino ewes, but low wool prices and high prime lamb prices changed that. 

SAMMs were chosen to replace the Merinos to improve lambing percentages.

Childerley Park mates 1400 SAMM ewes to SAMM rams and crosses 1600 SAMM ewes with Border Leicester sires to create a first-cross ewe.


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