A consistent focus on providing balanced nutrition for his sheep flock, even during a tough season, has helped Riverton farmer Sam Przibilla continue to see positive results in the growth of prime lambs as well as the wool volume and quality.
The family operation runs 800 Merino ewes and 220 hoggets and last year recorded a 110 per cent to 120pc lambing percentage.
Mr Przibilla believes a nutrition plan of bean stubble for grazing has played a leading role in having the paddocks this season littered with twins and triplets.
“We have a big focus on nutrition,” he said.
“In such variable seasons it is proving more important than ever because, at the end of the day, what you put into your sheep is what you get back.”
Ewes begin to lamb in June and in December lambs are weaned onto bean stubble to be finished.
“The lambs progress really well on it and it helps us to reach the target weight of 18 kilograms to 24kg dressed weight easily,” Mr Przibilla said.
“We also keep a lot of beans in a silo to feed out during the year as well.
“When the bean stubble begins to run out in February and March we start selling lambs.”
Three hundred Merino ewes are joined to Mernowie-blood Merino rams for wool production and 500 ewes are mated to Ashmore-blood White Suffolk rams to produce prime lambs.
For about five seasons Mr Przibilla has also worked on building up pasture quality, sowing about 200 hectares each year.
“We have been growing barley and cereals to take out all the broad leaf weeds and this year we have sown down clovers purely for the sheep,” he said.
“The work on the pastures has an impact in spring once the clover starts growing and the cereal bulk is there too.
“We got about $150 a lamb last season so I think investing in nutrition is paying off.”
About 30ha of vetch is also sown for grazing because it offered additional profitable benefits as the crop could be bailed or reaped.
Switching to a six-month shearing two seasons ago, Mr Przibilla said nutrition had also played a large role in wool production.
“We reached our best wool return off our hogget line this year,” he said.
“The 17.1-micron wool made 1730 cents a kilogram.”
Ewes are shorn in March and September with the wool cut averaging 3kg.
“Since we changed to a six-month shearing and maintained high nutrition the ewes are definitely growing more wool,” he said.
Options for feed become strained
Being a tough season, the pressure is on for graziers, Sam Przibilla says, but to make a gain at the end of the year he has decided to continue feeding and maintain sheep condition.
“We have been feeding about 10 square bales of hay a week for three months as well as barley,” he said.
“We will have to feed them off a oat hay cropping paddock this year too because I want to keep the condition up.”
Mr Przibilla said he expected to run out of barley in a month’s time and then he would have to source more pellets or barley, which is being sold at about $360 a tonne.
”We are just trying to work out what is best for the stock,” he said. “We are lucky we have had our own hay but we sold the majority of it in February, which I regret now.”