Generations of Schoenbergs embrace mixed farming

Generations of Schoenbergs embrace mixed farming

Sheep
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Nick Schoenberg says Dohnes are the ideal fit for his family's mixed farming operation near Marrabel.

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For three generations, the Schoenbergs have been running a mixed farming operation on their 600-hectare property Kilderry Park, near Marrabel.

Growing cereal crops, hay and pastures, the Schoenbergs also run a self-replacing Dohne sheep flock with 800 breeding ewes.

Nick Schoenberg said the operation was a real family effort and that they had hit a sweet spot with their numbers.

"We are probably about where we want to be with our sheep at the moment," he said.

"I live on the farm with my wife Rachel and daughters Makenzie and Emmerson, while my oldest son is living in Adelaide.

"My father Brenton is semi-retired, but helps out most days.

"We have always been a mixed farming operation.

"We were cropping cereals and running Merino sheep, but changed to Dohne sheep when Ulooloo stud started up.

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"Big frame, high eye muscle, high growth rates and good character in the wool.

"Originally when we were buying the Dohne rams, I went for the high muscle and big-framed sheep.

"But now I am looking for high fleece weight, and heavier wool-cutters.

"We seem to be getting that from our rams so that is why we buy all of them from Ulooloo stud.

"Now we are culling for frame size, wool character and wool brightness with a culling rate of around 30 per cent."

The Schoenbergs are getting a solid average lambing percentage, joining 50 ewes to each ram.

"Dohnes seem to produce good lambing percentages and we would never have had under 100pc, with up to 110pc," Nick said.

"The ewes are joined to rams in November (for a) late April lambing.

"This allows the lamb to be old and strong enough before it gets too cold and hopefully they have enough feed.

"We have a good program in the lead-up to joining ewes with rams, ensuring the rams are strong and the ewes are in good condition to cycle.

"Normally we then supplementary feed ewes one month prior to lambing with hay and sometimes grain, depending on dry feed availability.

"This supplementary feeding is home-grown hay and grain and seems to do the job."

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A big focus at Kilderry Park is pasture quality and management.

While conditions in this respect looked good early, recent dryness and frost has put a bit of pressure on production.

"We took a punt and started seeding dry in late March," Nick said.

"We received good falls of rain straight away, which resulted in feed jumping out the ground.

"This has been outstanding up until now.

"But we have had no rain lately and frost has been drying things out quickly.

"It can rain anytime it likes, but there is still potential for an average season.

"We manage our pasture by sowing short-term pastures every season.

"These include vetch and clover, and straight barley (Scope) which we grow for barley grass control.

"Basically, we are cell grazing the barley and top up with nitrogen after grazing.

"The vetch we normally graze off one or two times.

"In a good season, we would then cut it late for hay."

Kilderry Park shears in late August and last year's clip provided strong results.

"The clip was 19 micron and on average we got six kilograms off an adult sheep with 110 millimetre length," Mr Schoenberg said.

"We have found shearing in late August provides the best results and we crutch in early March before lambing."

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