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.
We finished our grain harvest without major incident and were pleased with yields and quality for the rain we received during the growing season. Our sheep are appreciating stubble feed.
We sold a Sire to another stud after using him over some maiden ewes. He will become a Link sire because he is used in more than one flock, which gives greater accuracy to ASBV’s.
His bare breech and fleece traits were attractive, particularly staple length and style.
We made individual selections for mating all our ewes, and rams were added.
We shore the worker rams and lambs born in June/July 2019.
Grain Harvest came early and we had finished all but the wheat crops by the end of November. It is amazing what can be produced in the Gilbert Valley on not much more than half of average annual rainfall.
November/December is the time of year when our sheep have to be self-reliant and hardy, because our primary focus moves to harvesting the grain from our broadacre cropping program.
Glen Holme worker rams. Some with 12 months wool growth, some with 8 months wool growth. Running on dry pasture and barley grass.
We were able to cut and bale our hay for both our own requirements and some for export to Asian countries.
Rams were delivered to their new homes.
Allen classed more young ewes.
Our wool specialist advisor came to inspect our sires and class our maiden ewes.
Early in the month Allen was able to have a flying visit to Western Australia to enjoy a catch up with some of the Dohne stud breeders, attend a couple of Auctions, and visit a few farms to see some sheep. It was good to get the WA perspective after seeing some of the New England region sheep in NSW earlier in the year, and other Eastern States Dohnes at Bendigo and Hamilton in July and August.
Our Auction went very well with 81 of the 91 rams offered selling at Auction for our best average to date of $1564. A modest top price of $3000 was paid by a commercial client. Other rams found new homes soon afterwards. Thanks to all successful purchasers and underbidders for this result. We also sold 171 2018 drop commercial ewe hoggets and lambs for an average of $231.
Our attendance at the Yorke Peninsula Field Days at Paskeville was a good chance to meet with people from near and far to discuss the advantages of Dohnes in the Australian sheep industry. We showcased a 5 year old ewe and another who was 6. Both were in 10 months wool to show how well Dohnes maintain quality throughout a long productive lifetime. Our Sire that produced the Champion Dohne fleece at the Royal Show in Adelaide impressed visitors with his stylish wool and calm, friendly temperament.
We weaned our early group of lambs bred through AI or Embryo transfer. They are already showing the depth of muscling and twist that can be found here.
We were awarded the Champion Dohne fleece at the Royal Adelaide Show. This had been grown by one of our Sires. He is Glen Holme 162503, and he has a long wide body with a superb top-line and attractive, stylish white wool. He has two groups of progeny here and just recently a group were born as part of the 2019 drop in the Balmoral Sire Evaluation.
Going to the Sheep and Wool show in Bendigo has been memorable for the companionship of the other Dohne Breeders sharing the events in our Marquee, and for some measure of success.
Our 2 year old ram was awarded National Champion.
If you missed seeing us in the Dohne Marquee at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo, this year, we had the following document available to collect - Glen Holme Dohnes Bendigo 2019
We finished planting our winter crop. Good rains have come for us and feed is becoming more plentiful. Backup lambing commenced late in June.
Preparations for our participation at the Australian sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo are proceeding with our team of four rams looking good. We have tagged lambs from three of these four, and they are pleasing at this stage. We look forward to watching them develop.
Allen and Lauren attended the Sheep Genetics Regional Forum in Adelaide, we continue to progress our data capture and reporting skills. The value lies in the predictability of breeding values (ASBV’s) of the Glen Holme flock. Clients purchasing rams from us benefit from this.
We have been blessed with good rains. The land comes back to life, and fresh grass grows.
Our trip to Pooncarie Field day on the lower Darling River in NSW gave us greater insight in to the variability of seasons. Some stations had received good rains while other had measured very little.
People told us clearly how well the Dohnes had been performing in the drought and how pleased they were with the sale prices received. The reasons given were consistent; Dohnes hold their condition when times are tough and are also efficient converters of feed.
Early lambing has finished, and we have mothered up and tagged lambs in their Sire groups. This gives us a first chance to evaluate the appearance of progeny groups. With a fresh emphasis on wool style and staple length, we were keen to see how some first time hogget sires performed. The results were very pleasing.
Excitement was felt here as the eagerly awaited lambs arrived from our November AI and Embryo transfer programmes. We had good success with ET, over 60% of recipients lambed, but the AI result was astounding. More than 115% of lambs were tagged for the ewes mated. The combination of external sires used alongside some of our own proven rams will give us a robust test of top genetics.
We featured an outstanding ram at Karoonda Farm Fair early in April. He drew a lot of attention due to his length of body, structure and heavy fleece that is naturally lustrous and stylish. He is our 2019 drop entry in the Balmoral (Vic) Sire evaluation trial. The ram is Glen Holme 162503, and his Balmoral evaluation trial lambs are due in Spring. We have tagged his second group of lambs at Glen Holme now, and we will use him more widely in the future.
Three major activities occurred this month.
Our display at Lucindale featured a Dohne Sire who has been accepted in the 2019 Sire Evaluation at Balmoral in Victoria. He has a rich, stylish fleece on a superb frame and has a balance of growth rate and fleece weight. This is evidenced by his having top 10% status for Post Weaning Weight and Clean Fleece Weight.
We also showcased the results, to date, of the 2018 drop at Balmoral featuring another Glen Holme sire. The latest published charts of information from the MPL 2016 drop of ewes was available. This was testament to all the claims about Dohnes; they grow quickly, have high quality fine wool, and are very fertile.
Allen attended the Leading Breeder Conference in Dubbo, hosted by Sheep Genetics Australia. This was motivational, with many high-quality speakers and presenters. Leading breeders from various sheep types and breeds were able to gather to share application of the latest tools to promote genetic gain whilst honouring animal welfare needs and addressing social concerns.
Shearing our mature ewes occurred in the last week of the month. The quality was very pleasing when you consider the dry season and shortage of feed. This is testament to the “do-ability” of Dohnes, and a tremendous combination to go with their growth rates and fertility.
It is a good time to be a woolgrower.
The power of Dohne genetics has been revealed in the latest results from the Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) trial at Balmoral in Victoria. Allen and Joy made the trip to the Sire Evaluation Field Day held in the Balmoral-Harrow-Coleraine district in Western Victoria. This is a 600mm winter rainfall area, and we were keen to see our sheep have performed in the environment there.
There are now two Glen Holme Dohne Sires involved in trials there, with a third that has recently been accepted for the 2019 drop of lambs. The MLP 2016 drop ewes from Glen Holme 141077 have weaned their first lambs and been shorn for the third time. The results so far are entirely predictable in that the Dohne shines in the high profit-driving areas of weight gain and number of lambs weaned.
In greater detail, whilst the Dohne ranked among the lowest 25% of the 25 Merino and Poll Merino sires for wool cut, near average for fibre diameter, he outshone all others for number of lambs weaned. This 2016 drop group of ewes that is being evaluated for all aspects of production for their lifetime were near the top of weaning weights as well.
Fertility is highly correlated to body weight and condition scores, which has been known for a long time, and the Dohne has proved his worth again in a talented field of industry sires. Glen Holme 141077 daughters weaned 97% of lambs as maidens, with the next nearest at 94%, and the lowest three at 56%, 52% and 49%. There is a huge opportunity for some sheep breeders to increase their profit enormously simply by changing their ram source.
The 2018 drop of weaners also contained a group sired by Glen Holme 151450. These looked extremely well and were within 100 grams of the top weaning weight. Much the same story as the Dohne representatives born in 2016. The whiteness of fleece was particularly pleasing given the very wet spring that the area experienced in 2018.
Allen spend a few days in Armidale in the New England tablelands in NSW to attend a Dohne Council meeting. He is nearing the end of his third term as councillor for the Australian Dohne Breeders Association. His greatest interests have been in the fields of Genetic Gain and Genomics. Over the last few years this has led to attending meetings with Sheep Genetics staff, the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre and Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association. These meetings were important elements of the time in Armidale this month.
He was also able to see some rams bred in this summer rainfall area that is currently experiencing severe drought.
Our own sheep have held their condition well, despite the dry season of 2018.
New sheep yards have been our focus.
Hot days this month saw a new temperature record at Glen Holme. We reached 47C on 24th January which was the week that we started removing the old yards in readiness to put up our new design.
The old yards had been in place since 1966, the year that our woolshed was built. They were built of white gum which was sawn using a portable timber mill at Kulicup in Western Australia.
Our new yards came from a design we saw at one of the Field days where we display our Dohnes. These were modular, and we had them fully linked to our woolshed and other infrastructure by the end of the month. The project was a full family affair with all our adults and children helping.
We implemented a back-up joining of our ewes with the assistance of a programme to enhance our genetic gain. The June 2019 drop of lambs will be interesting to track, because as a group, we have employed a new tool from our toolbox. The wool quality of our sires is the best we have ever had.
We often talk about genetic gain. Why is this so? All of us in business are subject to increasing costs of production. We need to make constant genetic gains in terms of profitable productivity and feed conversion to even stay ahead. To make continuing profits, genetic gains must exceed increasing costs of production.
The yardstick for measuring gain is based on a balance of income from sales of wool, lambs and surplus sheep. Profit is highly influenced by the number of lambs weaned, and the saleable weight of surplus sheep. Any large increase here makes a huge difference to profitability and sustainability. It also enables optimal flock recovery from low numbers following drought.
Genetic gain of the Glen Holme Dohnes is trackable and is benchmarked against all other Dohnes in Australia. We can show you this if you choose to inquire from us.