Our best young ewes were used for a laparoscopic AI programme, going to several high performance proven outside Sires, and one of our own.
The rams used were:-
Kintail Park 132345 WA
Harewood 131836 NSW
Babirra 132501 SA
Glen Holme 120424 (deceased)
Ten other rams were used in single sire mobs. We were able to test mate a number of promising young rams to evaluate their progeny next year. With a series of unseasonal rains and unsettled weather, the mating period was deliberately shortened.
October has seen us deliver rams to clients, classing of ewe hoggets for clients, crutching and selecting ewes for our upcoming AI program.
Earning the Champion Dohne fleece at the Royal Adelaide Show was very pleasing. The fleece was from the Prematurely Shorn ewe class, yet its weight and quality put it above other class winners.
Final lotting order for the sale rams was decided and the catalogue added to our website.
The Glen Holme On-Property Auction held on September 21st saw a greater number of rams sold than previous years, and we welcomed new bidders.
The following week was spent at Paskeville at the Yorke Peninsula Field Days, meeting with clients and promoting the Dohne breed.
Our recorded data was processed by Sheep Genetics, and we continue to see our Sires, Dams and young sheep at the very top in Australia. We spend huge amounts of time collecting this data and some of it requires paying a service provider. We also spend many weeks planning the next year’s breeding programme.
Using all available pieces of information, we graded the rams for our sale in September.
August was much wetter than average. This gave us confidence to spread our crops with Nitrogen
It came in cold and wet in early July, and stayed that way.
Joy and Allen drove to Bendigo for the Australian Sheep and Wool Show. We met with Industry leaders and other breeders. It gave us a chance to see what was being displayed at the show.
We shore the 2016 drop ewes, and looked forward to selling wool at a high point in the market.
As part of fulfilling responsibilities as part of being a member of Dohne Council, Allen travelled with some other Council members to Armidale in NSW. We met with representatives of Sheep Genetics Australia and also The Sheep CRC. Whilst there we led another Dohne Breeders Roadshow. This was to share information about possible changes to the way we can achieve good pedigree recording, and also about possibilities of increasing the Genomic data set for Dohnes.
Two days later, we met in Moama on the Border of Victoria with Breeders in Victoria and southern NSW for the next Roadshow. This completed the series that began in Muresk WA and Adelaide SA in March.
June was also very dry and warm. We shore the sale rams in late June.
Attendance at Pooncarie Field Day in NSW allowed us to showcase our Dohne sheep to people from the Western Division around the River Darling.
We entered the Merino lamb competition, and took out first prize, even with ewe lambs! Our entry of 3 lambs were very even and well muscled, averaging 55 kg.
Another highlight was doing ram delivery runs, which included seeing how well the previous year’s boys had grown out in the pastoral zone.
May was very dry.
Karoonda Farm Fair proved to be a good opportunity to showcase our sheep and promote the attributes and benefits of the Dohne breed. We also caught up with a number of our clients from the area.
We took 3 ewe lambs and a grown ram for display. The ewe lambs were only taken out of their mob of about 400 the day beforehand. They settled fantastically, to the point where we would allow and even encourage small children to touch them. The effort that we have put in to our sheep to genetically select for quietness was clearly evident.
Lambs from natural matings began to arrive from the beginning of April and we had used 7 young rams for the first time. This included the Mt Alma ram that we bought last Spring. It is good to see these lambs in their Sire groups, and watch for type and similarities. Of course, uniformity and consistency are also valuable, as long as productivity is high.
We had acquired some semen from two Proven Sires and used this and also some from our own rams as link sires. The resultant lambs by AI arrived in the middle of time that those lambs from natural mating were born.
Rain before ANZAC Day is always good to set the growing season off to an early start while the soil and air temperatures are still warm.
March has been a busy month both on and off the farm.
Allen attended the Leading Breeder Forum in Melbourne. This was hosted and run by Sheep Genetics Australia. It was both informative and motivational and also a good opportunity to learn from breeders of Terminal and Maternal rams.
We shore our mature ewes the following week. Test results are in, and as usual, every bale of Dohne fleece wool has a measured Fibre Diameter of 20. We have not ever had a bale average under 20.0 or over 20.9 microns.
Lucindale field Days were a great chance to meet our clientele from that region, and to promote the breed to new people. We took a ram and three shorn ewes with us to demonstrate the plain bodies and clean points of highly productive sheep.
Further progress is being made to rectify the damage caused by the windstorm in December last year. Electricity supply was reconnected in a permanent way, doing away with a temporarily repaired connection through the badly damaged workshop.
Recently, within our family, we have undertaken Training and Development in a wide variety of areas. We have received information or training on Russian Wheat Aphid, frost, Farm Safety, stubble management, Genetic gain, Genomics and cyber security.
The Australian Dohne Breeders Association held Roadshows in Western Australia and South Australia. Allen was involved presenting some modules at each state meeting on behalf on National Council.
We nominated a Sire for the 2016 joining at the Merino Lifetime Productivity trial hosted by the Elders Balmoral Trial in Victoria. Their field day was on 24th of March, and Joy and Allen took a friend of theirs, a keen commercial sheepman along for the trip. Our ram was the only Dohne representative among 25 Sires.
The lambs were amongst the best for condition, with top 10% scores for both weaning and post weaning weights. They also had good scores for breech cover and wrinkle. Glen Holme 141077 was the only Sire of 25 with top 10% scores in both weight and breech score categories. This was the only group of lambs with trait leader scores in three out of four traits measured or observed to date.
It was a very pleasing observation, and we received a number of comments about the evenness of the pen of lambs.
The rains keep coming. Summer forage planted on 18th January is looking good by mid-February.
The high selection pressure for fleece characteristics relating to summer rains have shown us how good the vast majority of our ewes are at coping without the use of chemicals to prevent flystrike and fleece rot. Genetic resistance is always the best resistance, because it is transferrable to subsequent generations. This testing summer will set us up to build on the gains of the past.
Our flock has a long history of selection against the negative effects on wool from warm spring and summer rains. With our older ewes carrying 11 months fleece and the younger ones 8 months growth, we have severely tested their resistance. Not every year provides the opportunity for field testing; the summer of 2016/17 certainly has.
Continuing rains slowed harvest down early this month; following rain events in December. We almost finished on January 12th, but were just two hours short when 13mm of rain came again. The next Monday was dry, allowing us to complete the task. With yet another significant rain event forecast for the Thursday, we planted a Summer forage crop, and received 27mm to get it going well.
Careful selection of rams to use for backup mating was done, and they were added to ewe mobs.