Lamb producers Brett and Jayne Robinson with some of their first-cross ewes.

Focusing on fast growth at Dubbo

Growth rates are the focus for second-cross lamb producer Brett Robinson.

STRONG growth rates are the focus for Brett and Jayne Robinson when  he’s selecting rams for his second-cross lamb operation.

The Robinsons run about 1700 first-cross ewes over 1100 hectares at Dubbo, and have been using Gilmore Poll Dorset rams for the past 30 years.

“I've tried a few other breeds but I still come back to Poll Dorsets, because of the value for money – what I have to pay for them and what I can produce,” Mr Robinson said.

“I buy about 10 rams a year, and they’ve got to be fast growing and have good body length – everything that I look for is in the Gilmore rams.”

Lambs are weaned at 10 to 12 weeks of age, and are then put on lucerne. They also have access to barley in self feeders.

”We used oats to supplementary feed, but we find we get a quicker result with barley because there’s more protein.

“We also trail feed the ewes and lambs for three to four weeks before we wean them, so by the time they’re weaned they know what the grain’s all about.”

Lambs are sold from 45 kilograms to 50kg. 

“We want a fast-growing lamb that we can turn them off under six months,” Mr Robinson said.

“I’m not convinced to grow them to heavy export weights. If you take into account the cost of the feed in the paddock you’re in front when you turn them off at a younger age.”

Most lambs are sold through the Dubbo saleyards, to strong demand.

“I must be producing the right article because the same two buyers are fighting over them every time I bring them in.”

All lambs are sold, including the ewes, which streamlines the production.

“We used to breed our own rams and ewes, but was too much,” Mr Robinson said.

“To produce first-cross ewes I’ve got to run Merino ewes. I don't have enough country and it's a lot of work, so I just buy ewes out of the Narromine saleyards or privately. The top ewes at Narromine are making about $200 a head at the moment, but ewes that are two months younger, that are not quite as big, but still good quality, are a bit cheaper.”

Mixed age first-cross ewes at "Leichardt", Geurie.
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