First-cross ewe venture
First-cross ewe breeding is replacing homebred mothers in Alison Kensit's sheep breeding change at "Redbank Park", Dunedoo.
AFTER 10 years of running a self-replacing Merino flock as a matron base for her first-cross breeding program at “Redbank Park”, Dunedoo, Alison Kensit is moving to concentrate fully on her Border Leicester-Merino first-cross production as her main stock project.
The flock’s 500 Langdene blood ewes of 19 micron will now become full-time mothers of first-cross lambs and replacements will be purchased off farm to keep joining numbers at 600 head.
Today, at the 70th annual Dunedoo breeders sale, marks the start of her new venture when Ms Kensit sells 100 of her Langdene blood 5½ year-old cast for age ewes, October shorn and due to lamb to Talbragar Park Border Leicester rams from March, plus 100 Weealla blood 6½-year-old ewes she had earlier purchased as a short-term trade opportunity which are also due to lamb in March.
“These ewes scanned 159 per cent in lamb, which is very good fertility for Merinos I think,” Ms Kensit said.
With the old ewes Ms Kensit is selling 100 first-cross ewes, daughters of the Langdene blood matrons, July-August 2017 drop, mulesed and October shorn.
The sheep breeding change will fit within what is already a busy life of balancing a full-time job and running a household of four children, plus most of the farm and husbandry work on the 260-hectare property.
Already she has replacement ewes on the farm having bought some more Weealla blood ewes from Gilgandra through AuctionsPlus.
Rams are joined with ewes for six weeks from February 1 for a July-August lambing and ewes are scanned in mid-April.
As the wool market has been lucrative Ms Kensit began six-month shearing last April and October and is cutting an average three kilogram fleece.
All ewes are mulesed while wethers are tail stripped at marking in May.
While understanding some wool buyers and manufacturers feelings on unmulesed wool in terms of their marketing, Ms Kensit said she would never buy unmulesed ewes as her replacements.
“I have my ewes mulesed for ease of management and I would only buy mulesed breeders,” she said.
“I have seen quality unmulesed ewes sold at sales making less money than lines of mulesed ewes of possibly lower quality, so that’s saying something.”
Her aim is to continue to work towards the annual Dunedoo breeders’ sale to market her first-cross ewes while last year’s wether portion were sold as stores.
Bred among Merino sheep, Ms Kensit loves farm life and wouldn’t swap it.
“I love the challenge and I think it is a little bit about breaking the gender stereotype as well.
“And the extra income is certainly a motivator.”