Wool and lamb prices on a roll as growers move to cash in

Wool and lamb prices on a roll as growers move to cash in


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LAMB SHEARING: Adam Sewell who along with father Robert, were shearing Merino lambs destined for the "bag lamb" trade.

LAMB SHEARING: Adam Sewell who along with father Robert, were shearing Merino lambs destined for the "bag lamb" trade.

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Good wool prices linked with strong sheep meat prices has seen many sheep and woolgrowers taking advantage.

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A perfect scenario - good wool prices linked with strong sheep meat prices has seen many sheep and woolgrowers taking advantage.

Central Victorian wool and sheep producers Rob and Naomi Sewell and son Adam and wife Sarah is one such operation that has jumped at the chance to meet the premiums available on Merino wether lamb.

The Sewells have land at Joyce's Creek and the original family farm at Bet Bet just north of Maryborough.

Adam Sewell said local agent John Wagstaff, Landmark Ballarat, suggested they take advantage of a window to sell Merino lambs as "bag lambs" to the Middle East.

"It is a narrow window as we had to maximise wool staple length while also having time off shears to put a finish on the lambs for sale," he said.

It is a narrow window as we had to maximise wool staple length while also having time off-shears to put a finish on the lambs for sale. - Adam Sewell, woolgrower, Joyces Creek

The Sewells had a line of 230 'orange' tag wether lambs that were shorn on October 20 last year that they aimed to finish on barley hay and grain for sale after three to four weeks.

He said the sheep would be run in a small paddock with water and feed to "get some extra cover on them".

Mr Sewell, who is a woolclasser, said the dry conditions made it challenging to get up to 60mm staple length.

In the end the mob was classed into two lines of 60mm and around 50mm length.

"We were pretty happy with that length seeing the sheep had no special treatment and were just runing on stuble for the past three months," he said.

The Sewells have just sold their main clip which averaged around 17-18 microns for young sheep and 18-19 micron for adult sheep.

The 1300 ewe flock was based on Merryville blood until switching to Banavie and Kedleston Park.

The Sewells select rams that will increase wool cut while keeping micron under 20 and add frame to their ewes.

They have switched to shearing every six months with adult sheep shearing about 3.5kg.

Adam Sewell said they classed the sheep closely to ensure they could achieve the right staple length.

The Sewells scan maiden ewes and any not in lamb are identified. If that ewe fails to get in lamb the following year it is culled.

"It's all about production and getting lambs on the ground," Mr Sewell said.

"We also want sheep that are shearable with plainer necks and open faces as well as good feet," he said.

As well as a self replacing flock the Sewells also join some Merino ewes to terminal sires.

The Sewells join around 300 Merino ewes to meat breeds, including White Suffolk, Southdown and black-faced Suffolks.

"We a trying the Southdown and Suffolks over our cull ewes as a trial," he said.

Recently they sold White Suffolk Merino-cross lambs to $179 and another line of Southdown Merino-cross lambs that sold for $164.

With the two properties about 35 kilometres apart, management is needed to ensure all stock are well cared for.

The land at Bet Bet was mainly used for cropping and dry sheep while lambing ewes were kept under close watch at Joyces Creek.

Adam Sewell received his woolclassing certificate in 2004. The last few years he has increased his run of sheds and now does around 10 sheds each year, all within an hour of home. "When they are close I can still get things done when I get home after work," he said.

Another off farm source of income is a mobile sheep dipping service treating about 40,000 sheep yearly.

In recent years English cricketers playing local cricket for Newstead had been employed as workers on the sheep dip.

Mr Sewell said the hot temperatures were a bit of a shock to the visitors as they were coming from the English winter.

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