Passion for heavy fleece on Monaro

Passion for heavy fleeces

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A love of heavy fleeces drives Vince Janota to seek more production from his Merino ewes at Jerangle. "When I start talking about wool and when I think about how much I can put on a sheep I get very excited," he said.

A love of heavy fleeces drives Vince Janota to seek more production from his Merino ewes at Jerangle. "When I start talking about wool and when I think about how much I can put on a sheep I get very excited," he said.

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A love of heavy fleeces drives Vince Janota to seek more production from his Merino ewes.

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For Jerangle woolgrower Vince Janota the most important consideration when breeding Merino sheep is to take into account the type of country and the pastures grown thereon where they are raised.

"Number one for sheep breeding is the environment where you live," he said.

"You can bring the sheep to our place from anywhere but that doesn't mean they will be any good in this country where we are over 1100 metres above sea level."

Mr Janota was referring to Dunskeig, the 360 hectare block he and his wife, Elizabeth, have operated near Jerangle for the past 35 years and on which they normally graze 600 heavy cutting Merino ewes on improved pastures. Due to current dry conditions, he reduced his stocking rate to 500 ewes but they produced nine kilograms of fleece last year along with 80 per cent lambs for a spring lambing. The wool Mr Janota's ewes produce had a long term average of 21 microns and he had wool cuts at 10kgs.

"Being so high, realistically the grass grows only for six months from October until April if we get rain," he said.

"Years ago we used to get a lot of rain but conditions have changed, so realistically we have had to lighten our stocking rate."

Mr Janota is passionate about the Merino sheep and more especially about their ability to cut big and heavy fleeces.

He cites the late Tom Culley MBE who had the Wonga stud at Jerilderie as a great inspiration.

"I like Tom Culley, I think he was one of the best breeders," Mr Janota said. "I have been reading about him and I would have liked to have met him."

Looking over his flock it was obvious Mr Janota was enthusiastic about his Merino ewes with their heavy cutting ability on a loose skin.

The last time he had a decent fall of rain, which created excellent pasture growth was at least two years ago, and in the intervening period he has supplementary fed his ewes to ensure productivity.

"I'm a believer in feeding sheep; I feed lupins because they are very high in protein and you don't need a lot to keep them in good condition," Mr Janota said.

"I know lupins cost more but they are better than barley and other grains."

When he was asked about what got him into breeding Merino sheep, Mr Janota said it was his passion for wool and the ambition to grow as much as he can.

"When I start talking about wool and I think about how much I can put on a sheep I get excited," he said.

Where is the limit? Mr Janota wants to know and he is doing his best to find out.

"Of course it depends on the season and the amount of feed," he said. "But I am having a lot of fun trying."

Mr Janota said he loved the softness of wool which is most important in his flock and he loves the rich wool he is achieving within his heavy cutting flock.

He regrets the demise of the sheep he describes as heavy cutting with rich and soft wool and that is why he is so determined about continuing to breed what many people would consider to be an old-fashioned and possibly an obsolete type of Merino.

"I know I keep on referring to Tom Culley but he bred heavy cutting sheep with rich and soft wool and that is why for me he was a champion," Mr Janota said.

"The rich wool stops the dust getting in and once you get the skin right and the lock right you hardly get any yellow wool. I never look at the figures, and when I think about Tom Culley he bred those beautiful sheep which were big woolcutters without figures because he could feel the wool and the skin."

The story Passion for heavy fleece on Monaro first appeared on The Land.

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