SEEING double is becoming common practice for James Trott on his Keilira cattle and sheep property, Little Cope.
Running 400 Angus cows and 2200 Merino ewes, evenly split between a self-replacing flock and Merino ewes mated to Border Leicesters for first-cross lamb production, twin lambs are becoming increasingly common on the 1740-hectare property.
Mr Trott is buoyed by the fact his program of ewe selection is turning out a twinning prevalence of 55 per cent across his ewes.
"This is the first year that we've had more sheep scanned as twins than singles - 55 per cent of our sheep have scanned for twins this year."
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At Little Cope, rams are run with ewes at a rate of about 2 per cent plus one ram, with joining taking place across about seven weeks from early January to mid to late February.
"We're flushing everything on lucerne for about 10 days and then beans after that," Mr Trott said.
"We've had the best scanning results we've ever had. I didn't scan the ewe lambs, someone else bought them and scanned them to come in at 150pc.
"I do my classing a bit different to others.
"For my maiden ewes I'm getting more and more twins every year because I'm heavily selecting for twins. A bit over 30pc now are scanning for twins and those twins will be kept and so long as they are scanning for lambs they will be kept in the Merino mob.
"It doesn't matter how old it is, so long as it has twins it will be in our Merino mob. Once it gets to the Border Leicester mob though, it will stay there. But that said, the twins are really starting to filter through into the crossbreds.
"I run three mobs over summer.
I run a maiden mob, a crossbred - terminal - mob and I run a Merino to Merino mob."
Border Leicesters are sourced from Ian and Sue Carr's Castle Camps stud at Keith.
The Border Leicesters first-cross market is undeniable.
Rams are selected for soft wool and good body size.
"I think I've been on the Borders for four years, we were on White Suffolks before that.
"I didn't mind the (White Suffolks), they were quite good.
"They've definitely got some power in them but the Border Leicesters first-cross market is undeniable."
Most of the Little Cope Border Leicesters-Merino ewe lambs are sold on-farm, with a client taking them and growing them out, mating them and selling them scanned in-lamb.
"They've been very happy with them and have been trying to buy them back every year," he said. "I think last year they mated them as ewe lambs and they scanned at 150pc. That's not bad for young ewes, lambing at one year old."
Ewe lambs are shorn in October and then sold.
"They've been cutting nearly 2 kilograms of wool at that point and clearing $10 after expenses," he said.
"The wethers, we shear them too at that point and they get sold pretty much the same time."
Little Cope markets the lambs on AuctionsPlus, mainly to feedlots and graziers.
"I've actually been pretty happy with how the wethers have performed too. I thought the difference between the Borders and the White Suffolks was going to be in the wether department but I've actually been pretty impressed," he said.
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"Wethers are being sold at five months for the older ones and they are going out at a couple of lines of around 38kg and 33kg. They're probably around a 35kg liveweight animal, so 14-16kg dressed.
"That's just off pasture and that's pretty early still."
He said Border Leicesters-crosses had proven to be easy-care.
Conditions for lambing had been exceptional, he said.
"We have a lot of fl at country, 70-80pc is flat, which sort of limits our lambing country a bit. That's why I'm not running all sheep," he said.
"That flat country gets really wet ... it gets pretty tricky at times so a drier winter is a really good thing."
Last year, Little Cope averaged $209 for its first-cross lambs.
"This year we're down to 850 scanned in-lamb to a Border Leicesters, but we're usually pretty much half and half," he said.
"We're probably going to head up to 3000 ewes so I'm trying to mate a few more to Merinos.
"Getting them up and away so quickly and getting them off in October so easily, it's a lot easier running the Borders than more Merinos, but I need the Merinos for the replacements."
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