‘Bloody good rams’ fulfil expectations

NORM Crawford with daughter Jazmyn and a group of old and new Kentish Downs Poll Dorset Rams.
NORM Crawford with daughter Jazmyn and a group of old and new Kentish Downs Poll Dorset Rams.

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Norm and Heather Crawford, and family, farm their diversified 1100-hectare property, ‘Fordvale’ at Strathalbyn on a 50:50 cropping/livestock mix, with prime lamb production making up half of the livestock enterprise, the balance being beef.

The cornerstone of their prime lamb enterprise is Kentish Downs Poll Dorset rams, used over 1000 bought-in Merino ewes sourced from the same mid-north SA supplier for the past 12 years.

The Crawford’s mate their ewes in the last week of November to drop lambs from mid-April, consistently achieving a 120 per cent lamb-marking rate.

“Our target market is around 23kg carcass weight, selling all lambs over the hooks through Thomas International Foods, or occasionally Woolworths,” Norm said. “To achieve that we wean the lambs at 15 weeks of age because I don’t believe in putting good tucker down their mums’ throats.

We haven’t found anything better than the quality and value we get from Kentish Downs.

Norm Crawford, prime lamb producer

“We market our first draft at about 20 weeks of age as new season woolly lambs from mid-September. It is a bit cold and wet in this environment to aim any earlier.”

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Norm said about 70 per cent of the lambs are sold this way, with the balance being shorn and grown out to be finished as heavyweights from 28kg upwards.

The Crawford family first sourced Kentish Downs Poll Dorset rams over 20 years ago when they were based in South Australia and, despite the subsequent shift to Holbrook NSW, they are still using them.

“In all seriousness we haven’t found anything better than the quality and value we get from Kentish Downs,” Norm said.

Norm said they had a very amiable relationship with stud principals Rob and Jody Martin.

He hasn’t travelled to the Kentish Downs sale since relocation as the stud does a great job of choosing the right genetics to fit his operation.

“We are looking for good growth rates, especially weaning weights, but with moderate birthweight,” he said.

“They must also pass the visual test for soundness, plus the good type and conformation that can breed a consistent top line of lambs that we can finish quickly.

“We send our preferences from the catalogue and Rob facilitates the purchase for us, then delivers them.

“The trust we have is built on the quality he has delivered. Neither of us wants to abuse what is a great working relationship that is certainly delivering results. With Kentish Downs rams our yield percentage has never been below 46 per cent.

“I am not frightened to pay a dollar to get the right rams; after all you only get what you pay for in this world, but in lamb production I reckon there are three simple things you need - a good ram, a good ewe and good tucker.

“Kentish Downs is certainly fulfilling our expectations in supplying bloody good rams.”