THREE lambings in two years is the aim of successful Canowindra, NSW, prime lamb producer, Greg Hamilton, who believes his ewes can’t be “hanging around” for half a year and not working for him.
“It’s all to do with your bottom line,” he said.
“You might have to mark a few more lambs – a little bit more work – but at the end of the financial year it’s a lot more profitable.”
By doubling up joining of his first cross ewes to his Windradyne stud Poll Dorset rams, Mr Hamilton gained an extra 600 lambs last year.
“I did have to carry them through January to March, but then I sold them in April to June at nine to 10 months of age and they averaged $167,” he said.
“That’s the difference if you double-up your ewes straight after lambing or as they lamb.”
With a little bit of supplementary feeding on his second cross lambs, he said he was repaid “tenfold”.
“Even if you have to stick $10,000 to $15,000 of grain down their necks, the return is most beneficial.”
Mr Hamilton runs a flock of 1200 first cross (Border Leicester/Merino) ewes at “Charlesville”, just southeast of Canowindra with his wife, Louise and his father and mother, Len and Margaret.
The ewes are run in four mobs of approximately 300 head with two of the mobs lambing twice in the one year.
“The ewes that join early and lamb early in March are put straight to the rams for eight weeks,” he said.
“I trail-feed lupins while they are joining to help nutrition and fertility.”
The Hamiltons source maiden first cross ewes from either Forbes or Narromine store sheep sales.
These are then joined when they reach 55 kilogram weights.
“I think it makes a better ewe if you join early,” he said.
“A couple of older sheep breeders have told me not to let my ewes get too fat.
“You’ll have trouble joining later if they do get fat.”
All second cross lambs are run together and the Hamiltons try to get off all early lambs as suckers.
“The others we may supplementary feed with barley and lupins and take them up to heavyweights,” Mr Hamilton said.
The suckers are run straight off their mums at around 16 weeks of age with most selling to Breakout Meats, Cowra.
In the past two years the older lambs have been sold through Forbes saleyards.
Their second cross lambs and clients’ lambs sired by Windradyne stud rams do well at local shows.
“We’ve won a few lamb competitions and clients have won at Woodstock, Carcoar and Blayney shows,” Mr Hamilton said.
“Genetics has a lot to do with it, but you’ve got to feed them well as well.”