Fast growth with Poll Dorsets

Fast growth with Poll Dorsets at Snowtown

Sheep
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Poll Dorset genetics are allowing Adam Jamieson to finish lambs quickly from his on-farm feedlot near Snowtown.

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POLL Dorset genetics are allowing Adam Jamieson to finish lambs quickly from his on-farm feedlot near Snowtown.

Mr Jamieson and his partner Leanne run a first-cross operation, joining 1500 to1600 Merino ewes, mainly Leahcim-blood, each year.

"I buy in young one-year-old ewes as well as 5.5-year-olds as top ups," he said.

"It's a simpler operation buying in the ewes as I don't have the land to be breeding my own Merinos as well."

Poll Dorset genetics are sourced from Lachlan Hart's Glendevon stud.

"We were using Leahcim White Suffolk rams for many years, then we leased another property that was using Poll Dorset rams that came from Lachlan Hart, and we purchased those rams off them when we started the lease," Mr Jamieson said.

"We liked the depth, the length and fast early growth, so the next year we bought some mated ewes mated to Poll Dorsets from where Lachie was working part time and buying his rams also."

Mr Jamieson still uses some Leahcim sires, but Poll Dorsets are used over about 70 per cent of the flock.

The fast early growth is the biggest benefit of the Poll Dorsets, Mr Jamieson said.

"We can get them out early and whatever we buy into put through the feedlot from the markets can be sold afterwards."

The farming area complements the sheep enterprise, with Mr Jamieson keeping all the grain grown on-property for the feedlot.

The grazing country covers about 827 hectares and he crops another 500ha, as well as cutting 100ha of hay each year.

"We put in a lot of barley and hay to store on farm and to go through the feedlot and feed our ewes throughout the year, and we harvest and sell the wheat," he said.

Lambing is in April and May and they're weaned at four months.

"We weaned a fraction earlier this year because of sheep feed, because in the country where I run my ewes, we need to get good rain to keep them going," Mr Jamieson said.

The cropping revolves around the sheep, with lambs on barley and vetch crops for about six to eight weeks after weaning.

"Then we'll draft off before shearing, while it's good to sell, and the ones that are ready will go to TFI (Thomas Foods International) at 56 kilograms, around 25kg to 26kg carcase weight," Mr Jamieson said.

"With the Poll Dorset lambs, in a good year we could have 60 to 70 per cent sold fresh off the weaning crop then the rest go into the feedlot and sold in December.

"They finish a bit quicker than the White Suffolk-cross lambs, which are why we mate a bigger percentage of the ewes to Poll Dorsets."

After being in the feedlot, on a barley-based ration with lentils and Laucke balancer 60, lambs usually reach carcase weights of 28.5kg to 33kg, dressing around 47pc.

"Their daily weight gain is pretty good," Mr Jamieson said.

"If we put them in between 35kg to 40kg, they're normally out between eight to 10 weeks, hitting that target of around 29.5kg dressed.

"The feedlot makes a big difference in improving the profitability of our business.

"We use to sell approximately 20 per cent of the tail end off but now with the feedlot we retain all lambs for a greater profit."

The emphasis on increased nutrition extends to the ewe flock.

"We store at least two years worth of hay, and we keep all barley," Mr Jamieson said.

"We've built more infrastructure to be able to lock up the lambs and feed them to keep them going."

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