Youthful vitality rules at Ashcharmoo

Youthful vitality rules at Ashcharmoo

Sheep Breeders Compendium News
YOUTH: Ashley (12) and Charlotte Cooper (10) are the drivers and the name behind the Ashcharmoo Poll Dorsets, Marulan, NSW.

YOUTH: Ashley (12) and Charlotte Cooper (10) are the drivers and the name behind the Ashcharmoo Poll Dorsets, Marulan, NSW.

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Ashley (12) and Charlotte Cooper (10) are the drivers and the name behind the Ashcharmoo Poll Dorsets.

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The Ashcharmoo Poll Dorset stud was established just four years ago and has been steadily growing in numbers and quality.

Behind the launch of the stud was the interest and enthusiasm of principals, Justin and Narlisa Cooper's children - Ashley (12) and Charlotte (10).

The children wanted to show animals and are involved in all aspects of the stud.

"They are the main drivers in the showing and everything we do," Narlisa Cooper said.

The stud was started in 2017 with a line of ewes in lamb from Armdale/Armdale Park and operates on the family farm of Justin's parents, Sally and Russell.

The property comprises 400 hectare near Marulan, NSW, and also carries Merino and crossbred flocks and commercial cattle.

Narlisa said Justin's parents and his great-grandfather Russell Snr were their biggest supporters.

Mrs Cooper said the total flock now numbered about 350 and included about 270 registered ewes. The purchase of a line of Kentish Downs ewes in that stud's first dispersal sale in January 2019 "nearly doubled" the Ashcharmoo stud flock overnight.

They also bought a ram from Aberdeen stud to use over the Kentish Downs ewes.

Mrs Cooper said the line was "slightly smaller in size than the Armdale line which is something our local market was looking for.

Clients were mainly from the Goulburn district, Taralga, Tarago, out to Harden and Temora, NSW.

Sires used included one each from Armdale and Armdale Park, as well as the Aberdeen ram. Mrs Cooper said the stud had also used their own home-bred rams this year.

"It's a 2018-drop ram - 180004, that the kids call 'Bully'," she said.

"We've already got lambs on the ground by him that are only six weeks old, but they are already showing the growth of their father at the same age," she said.

The stud also artificially inseminated a line of ewes to Valley Vista rams - "which is an exciting prospect".

The semen - from Valley Vista Mitchell and Fife - was a package the Cooper's won as part of a Movember auction.

The flock is joined twice a year. One in November for a March-April lambing and also in March for an August lambing.

The stud targets the prime lamb producer market who wanted lambs that matured quickly and could be sold early.

Since its inception the stud has shown at 12 shows, with the enthusiastic support of Ashley and Charlotte, including local shows at Crookwell, Taralga and Yass.

This year they also attended the Canberra Royal with all other shows either postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus..

"We also love making the trip out to Cowra in October for their Lamb Show," she said.

"We were planning on attending the Australasian Dorset Championships in Bendigo this year but unfortunately that has been cancelled."

Mrs Cooper said the kids had recently taken part in an online show run by the South Coast and Southern Tablelands Youth in Ag Movement.

"They've done very well in that format. Preparation was different and they had to photograph and video themselves and send that through to be judged which gave them something to do whilst in isolation," she said.

Mrs Cooper said the stud had won reserve champion ewe and ram at the Cowra lamb show in October in 2018 and 2019.

In 2018 at its very first NSW Dorset State Championship, the stud was awarded the Lindsay Wright Memorial Trophy for novice ram prepared by the handler.

The Coopers said they learn something new at each show they attend.

"The competition is quite fierce with some of the best studs in the state located in our area" Mrs Cooper said.

"To win any ribbon is special. It encourages the kids to keep working hard."

This year is the third year they have offered rams for sale after starting with five the first year, 15 in 2019 and 40 this year.

Rams have been sold by private selection and on Facebook. This year they are looking at the option of selling online as well as private sales.

Mrs Cooper said the COVID-19 restrictions had made marketing "tricky". "No one has seen what we've got unless they were at Canberra," she said.

The Coopers think 40 rams this year is sustainable and will consolidate their line.

They also plan to bring in some new genetics with a new ram this year and to undertake a bigger AI program. Mrs Cooper said she grew up in an urban area so starting the stud and all the administration that came with it was a big change for her.

"I've had to learn on the run and not be afraid to ask questions and seek out people to help and give advice. Justin was born on the land so its not as big a change for him," she said.

While they are not participating in LambPlan they keep all the data needed (including all weights at set points and daily growth rates) and this year will StockScan which will give eye muscle and fat depth data.

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