THE decision to establish a feedlot on his Hill River farm is paying off for grazier Brad Jaeschke, who achieved a then-saleyard record price for his feedlot-finished lambs at the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin in April.
Brad and his father Neville run a 2000-head self-replacing Leahcim-blood Merino ewe flock and operate a 1000-head on-farm feedlot.
Brad decided to begin feedlotting lambs to target the export lamb market and help manage feed availability risk during dry seasons.
This year also marked the first time he had sold feedlot lambs through a saleyard.
"I sold 120 crossbred lambs for $258 - they were about 35 kilograms carcaseweight, so I was very happy feedlotting was so successful," he said.
The record-breaking lambs were a part of a mob of 800 that were bought in November last year and entered the feedlot in mid to late January.
The Jaeschkes run about 900 Merino ewes that are joined to Merino rams and about 1300 surplus ewes that are joined to Twowynn White Suffolk rams to produce prime lambs.
But, the flock has decreased by about 200 head this year, the first time since 2006, because of the dry conditions.
Brad said feedlot lambs gained about 300 grams a day per head.
"We are really targeting heavy weights. On average, most lambs reach about 25kg dressedweight or heavier," he said.
Brad said lambs were strategically selected to enter the feedlot, with the decision based on market price and seasonal conditions.
"It is mostly season dependent but all bought lambs are put through the feedlot for export, while our homebred trade lambs enter the feedlot if needed when the season is tough - like this year," he said.
The Jaeschkes' livestock operation is a part of a mixed farming enterprise and the two programs run "hand-in-hand" on country that spreads from Mintaro through to Andrews Silos.
Ewes are joined at the end of January for about six to eight weeks, to prompt a later lambing period in July.
"We have a late lambing period because it works in with seeding," Brad said.
"It also reduces hand-feeding of ewes and lambs because it complements legume stubble availability later in the year," he said.
Brad said utilising paddock stubble after harvest was a crucial nutrition element because sheep were grazed on about 650 hectares of non-arable land prior to harvest.
After lambs are weaned on legume stubble in late November, they are sold direct to processors and through the saleyard at about 10 months old.
"Legume stubble really helps to build up protein to help increase growth rates but if needed, from there, lambs are put into the feedlot," Brad said.
New feed solution helps to save time
Increased hay and grain prices and dry conditions have prompted grazier Brad Jaeschke, Hill River, to source a combined nutrition pellet to feed his sheep.
Brad operates a 1000-head on-farm feedlot and said although feed pellets were costly, when compared with the "price hike of other feed sources", pellets were economical and offered more benefits.
"The pellets just made sense - we were wasting time by mixing feed during some of our busiest times in the cropping program," he said.
Brad said although he had only used the pellets for a short time, the results were positive.
"The pellets have the correct quantities of everything so we do not have to add hay or worry about grain poisoning," he said.