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Beyond the Bale : June 2016
LIFT LAMBING RATES FERTILITY AND NUTRITION Ruth Robinson’s property north of Jamestown in South Australia has been in her family since her great great grandfather first took up the land in 1872. Ruth is the fifth generation to farm the property, after returning in the late 1970s following four years at Roseworthy Agricultural College. Back then, when Ruth started managing sheep on the property, the wool was up to 28 microns. Now the younger sheep have 19 micron wool and the adults have 21-22 micron. They cut an average of between 6 and 7 kg per head, with 70-75% yield. Ruth runs a self-replacing Merino flock on the 946 ha property. 240 ha is native grassland; a further 85 ha is treated as grazing only, even though it has been cropped in the past. The remainder is used for either cereal cropping or grazing. Only about 200 ha is cereal cropped each year, with a further 40-50 ha sown to vetch and oats for sheep, prior to going into the cereal rotation the following year. In addition, some paddocks are sown with oats (some into existing lucerne) for winter sheep feed and/or late spring feed as standing crops. Ruth’s husband, John Voumard, is a lawyer and runs a regional law firm based at Jamestown, where Ruth spends part of her time as well as running the farm. They have two daughters, Catherine and Sarah Voumard, who work full time away from the farm. Sarah helps on the farm most weekends, and Catherine occasionally. “My emphasis on sheep rather than crops is a bit contrary to the district norm – I run the sheep essentially on my own and have the cropping share-farmed,” Ruth said. The cropping phase helps control weeds and the stubbles provide some summer grazing. “I mate about 1,200 Merino ewes to North Ashrose Merino rams. These ewes and FAST FACTS • Ruth’s 1,200 Merino ewes and their fertility are the profit drivers for her business. • Ruth achieves a healthy gross margin of $46 per dry sheep equivalent. • She has undertaken a Lifetime Ewe Management course and been involved in a benchmarking group. • Over the past two years, lambing rates have increased to 102%. • Lambing takes place in June/July to avoid the autumn feed gap. • Ewes are pregnancy scanned; dry ewes are removed and twin bearing ewes receive more feed. • Multi-row windbreaks are being established on her property to increase lamb survival. For woolgrower Ruth Robinson at Mannanarie in the Mid North of South Australia, concentrating on the fertility and nutrition of the 1,200 ewes in her self-replacing Merino flock is helping lift productivity and profitability. By concentrating more on ewe nutrition since doing a Lifetime Management Course, woolgrower Ruth Robinson, who runs a self-replacing Merino flock in the Mid North of South Australia, has lifted lambing rates over the past two years. Ruth is pictured here last year after lambing, when there was much more feed than now. PHOTO: Stock Journal
In the Shops - September 2016