First-crosses lift lamb profits

Border Leicester-Merino first-cross lambs lift sheep profits for Allambie Farm, Senior

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Border Leicester rams are helping Senior producer Chris Wurst produce profitable lambs from Merino ewes.


Quick turnover and good returns at the Naracoorte first-cross ewe lamb sale are the biggest drawcards for Senior producer Chris Wurst to breed Border Leicester-Merinos.

Mr Wurst owns 1300-hectare Allambie Farm with wife Elizabeth and son David, where they run 1000 Merino ewes, of which half are mated to Merino rams and half to Border Leicester rams from the Paxton stud, Western Flat. 

They also grow wheat, barley, lupins and canola, and run 40 head of Angus–Friesian cattle.

The rams are run with the ewes for five weeks from the last week of October, with one ram to 50 ewes.

This year’s lambing averaged 120 per cent, but achieved up to 160pc in one mob.

“The ewes had lucerne pasture two weeks before and two weeks after rams went in,” he said.

“This year was phenomenal with the number of twins we then produced.”

Mr Wurst pregnancy tests ewes in February.

Cull rates are low; any ewes that fail consideration for breeding to Merinos are then mated to Border Leicesters.

Empty ewes from the Border Leicester joining are then mated with Poll Dorsets.

A side sample of wool is taken to determine micron, comfort factor and yield. 

Mr Wurst aims for 19 micron wool from his hoggets and 20M for older ewes.

“I try to keep the micron low and maintain our cut, but it doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

Mr Wurst tries to sell his April and May-drop lambs before Christmas and ewes from mid-November.

The Border Leicester–Merino ewe lambs are sold at the Naracoorte first–cross sale, where last year they sold 170 ewe lambs at $209. 

Mr Wurst said the family has been happy with the returns at that sale.

“The first-cross offers us quick turnover for good returns,” he said.

Border Leicester-Merino wether lambs are sold to JBS, Hardwicks or Midfield, depending on which has the highest price.

They are sold at 48-50 kilograms liveweight for a 22-23kg carcaseweight.

The wool is sold in Melbourne.

Last year Border Leicester-Merino hogget wool made 1105 cents/kg and the whole clip averaged 966c/kg.

Mr Wurst would like to increase his flock to 500 ewes for breeding with Merino rams and 900 ewes for breeding with Border Leicesters.


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