Drought has seen Gippsland cropper, David Shaw, reconfigure his commodities and energies, with a greater emphasis on turning off livestock.
In normal seasons Mr Shaw invests most of his time in cropping including wheat, oats and canola in rotation while also breeding 2000 second-cross lambs for the prime stock market.
Mr Shaw’s farming operations included 142 hectares at Newry, with a centre pivot and spray irrigation; 235ha at Glenmaggie (including 32ha under a pivot); and leases totaling 809ha of dryland country at Traralgon.
He grows lucerne and fodder hay under irrigation at Newry and fattens second-cross lambs.
The Glenmaggie country is sown to wheat, canola and oaten hay in rotation.
This year the irrigated portion of 32ha was sown to canola while the dryland areas was sown to wheat and to grow pasture for grazing Merino-Border Leicester ewes with lambs.
The Traralgon farm was sown to wheat and canola and grazed with ewes and lambs.
“We buy them (the ewes) in as maidens and join them to a Poll Dorset, Suffolk or White Suffolk rams sourced from Ashley Park and Pinora studs,” Mr Shaw said.
“We normally turn the lambs off as suckers in the spring, but this year was tough (cold and dry) in winter, so we’ve had to feed the ewes and lambs and run them on longer.”
Lambs are sold direct to processors and through saleyards in Gippsland and the western district.
This year’s rainfall is less than half the average at 250mm compared to 625mm.
Mr Shaw is expecting to harvest less lucerne and will buy in store lambs on an adhoc basis for fattening.
With an increased focus on the sheep flock, he has spent a lot of time on the road, shifting them between farms.
“We’ve managed to move stock around to graze after harvest,” Mr Shaw said.
“We’ll swing back into pasture at Glenmaggie and fatten more sheep,” he said.
Canola at Glenmaggie yielded 2.5t/ha and the wheat came in at 1t/ha.