Ram grading for cataloguing has shown how far we have come in improving the wool types on our Dohnes whilst retaining the carcase traits that make the breed fertile and productive.
Exciting results continue to flow in from the AMSEA trials being conducted at Balmoral in Western Victoria. The latest data, from the 2019 drop, showed that there was no effective loss of wool production yet a huge gain in growth from Glen Holme 162503 when performance trialled against 20 top Merino and Poll Merino entries from all over Australia.
Even more pleasing than this was the data showing higher quality wool than average for both FD and CVFD. When we inspected the progeny groups in March, the wool types had withstood the wet season conditions very well; it is a 625 mm average annual rainfall region.
A key performance indicator for any sire is for his progeny to be stable in type and to breed a replacement that is better than himself. We were delighted to find such a successor amongst the first group of lambs from our Champion Dohne ram from the Bendigo Show in 2019. We will use this up-and-coming new sire, Glen Holme 195281 as soon as possible in our stud breeding programme.
This group of lambs were born in June and July last year, meaning the National Champion ram had already proven himself under single sire, paddock mating conditions.
The format of the 2019 Bendigo Show judging was “State of Origin”, so our entry Glen Holme 172565 was considered the best from South Australia. He then went on to be chosen above all other rams from Victoria and New South Wales. Lambs from 172565 will be born at Balmoral in August.
After months of planning and with guidance from Meat and Livestock Australia through the Sheep Genetics staff, we implemented a project to record a series of measured and observed traits on pure Dohne lambs to help ratify genomic parameters for Dohnes. This meant taking DNA samples. We know both sire and dam, birth date and type and we will take measurements and observations until the lambs are ready for sale. These lambs come from two Glen Holme Sires that are well linked to other flocks, one of which is represented in the Merino Lifetime Productivity project, having progeny in the Balmoral 2016 drop evaluation.
This project had been undertaken by our choice and with encouragement from the Australian Dohne Breeders Association Council.
We have almost finished planting our grain crop which now occupies about half the area of the farm.
We have recorded early scores for breech cover and breech wrinkle at lamb tailing and as we do not mules our lambs, they have healed very quickly meaning the lambs received very little set back in growth. There are now twelve years of records for the Glen Holme Dohnes, so we have Research Breeding Values for these traits. RBVs lead on to ASBVs.
There were three main focal points in May; seeding, lambing and shearing.
We plant our own cereal and pulse crops, including hay; doing all our own preparation as well. We have some planning assistance from a commercial Agronomist.
With lambing completed, we spent many days mothering up and tagging lambs, recording both parents, birth date and type. This forms the foundation of production recording.
We have fleece weighed all the early 2019 drop young sheep. This was the final piece of data required for submission to Sheep Genetics. We also make visual recordings of wool traits, and notes for our own use.
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to impact what we do. The second field day, Karoonda Farm Fair, was cancelled, as was SA Sheep Expo, where we were going to support the younger generation in learning about the sheep industry. Although, day-to-day activities have been affected to a lesser extent given Agriculture is classed as an essential service, we can continue our work.
We have continued improvements to our sheep yards, by installing hex-grating and gravel into our classing race, raising the sheep slightly. We had our 2019 April and June drops of young sheep classed. Fleece measurements are being taken prior to shearing next month. Some of these sheep will feature in our 2020 On-Property Auction on September 17th 2020.
Lambing has begun for 2020.
Allen, Lauren and Damien travelled to Victoria for the 2020 Balmoral Sire Evaluation Group Field Day, where we were able to inspect the progeny from two of our sires, Glen Holme 151450 and Glen Holme 162503. This was a great opportunity to test the Glen Holme genetics in a different environment, and against Merino and Poll Merino types. Not surprisingly, both sire groups performed as a Dohne would be expected, with excellent growth rates at all stages measured. Fleece quality on the Glen Holme 151450 progeny was pleasing. Glen Holme 162503 progeny were clearly frontrunners for growth rate. Their wool has stood the environmental testing and structural conformation was outstanding. Despite an 84% incidence of twins in the pen, growth rates were a long way clear of any other group. Additional results were available for the 2016 MLP Project where Glen Holme 141077 was a sire.
The 20th and 21st of March would have been when we travelled to Lucindale for the South East Field Days, however, following Government directions, this event was cancelled. We missed the opportunity to meet with many of our clients, and look forward to catching up in the future.
Shearing our Rams, Ewes and youngest drop of 2019 lambs happened this month. It was really encouraging looking at the progression of our wools, following our focus in breeding for better woolled Dohnes. Each year with this focus, improvements are noticeable. This was also our first shearing where we were able to brand our bales with the Authentico brand. Authentico is an integrity scheme from the Schneider Group which ensures a transparent supply chain from farm gate to wool tops, making use of existing standards, best practices and legislations honoured by wool growers already, and allowing the wool to be fully traceable along the entire supply chain. These on farm standards and practices include animal welfare, environmental protection.
Adelaide was the venue chosen for the Australian Dohne Breeders Association members Forum. All stud breeders were invited to attend for a day and a half in which many matters that are of importance to the breed were outlined and there was plenty of time available for discussion. Major opportunities for change in the future were given priority by way of information and discussion sessions. The National Council also met both before and after the Forum to maximise the efficient use of time and travel.
Our involvement was significant with Allen attending for three and a half days, and Lauren participating in the Forum including the Dinner where she met many of the key people involved in promoting the benefits of our breed, as well as Sheep Genetics staff. Damien kept things ticking over back at Glen Holme, and Joy was able to meet with the other Councillors over dinner one evening and provided support back home and helped with transport for Allen.
We had been asked to make a presentation on the major outcomes from the involvement of our Dohne Sire in the Merino Lifetime Productivity Sire evaluation trial at Balmoral in Victoria. Lauren had prepared it and most of the information was able to be depicted using graphs which had visual impact.
Scanning for fat and muscle depth on the 2019 drop lambs has given us the opportunity to observe the doing ability of each sire’s progeny.
After the low rainfall of last year, our surface water supplies have all but dried out. We do not have reticulated water around Manoora. Equipping an existing bore and installing a complete water system to a group of 7 paddocks has been an important project.