Boorowa producers make Merino wool production the focus

Bruce and Narelle Nixon with their May shorn, Tara Park blood one-year-old ewes at "Clovelly", Boorowa.
Bruce and Narelle Nixon with their May shorn, Tara Park blood one-year-old ewes at "Clovelly", Boorowa.

MERINO wool production has remained the focus for Bruce and Narelle Nixon, "Clovelly", Boorowa and "Bennett Spring", Cowra, for many years, and they’re now in the process of simplifying their operation.

The Nixons run about 4500 sheep, including 2200 wethers, a few hundred first-cross ewes, 700 lambs and about 1200 Merino ewes.

The family has been using Tara Park genetics for the past 25 years, after Mr Nixon was shearing for the Evans family.

The Nixons diversified with a small number of first-cross ewes a while ago, but the improved wool market has strengthened their confidence to make Merinos the sole focus again.

“We got involved in first-cross ewes because of the way the meat market was going at the time and wool wasn't all that great, but we’ve decided we'll go back to a simple Merino operation,” Mr Nixon.

“The classed out ewes will still be joined to Border Leicester ram and sold in lamb or we could lamb them out.

“We want to simplify the business with the Merino ewe being our core focus, so once those first-crosses are out of our system we can run more Merino ewes.

“With the amount of feed the first-cross needs to produce a lamb, we find they're taking our best country.”

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Sticking with Merinos has paid off, with the Nixons enjoying good returns for wool and through the meat market for their wethers.

The family aims for an average wool cut of eight kilograms for adult sheep, with a good quality, soft-handling, 19-micron fleece.

“We have an adult average micron of 19- to 19.5-micron with our one-year-olds around 17.5-micron,” Mr Nixon said.

“This year their wool went 16.8-micron and cut 6.5kg, which sold for 1685 cents a kilogram at auction, so our one-year-olds actually made us $100 a head.

“We sold shorn wethers a couple of weeks ago for $128 a head, plus we’d cut $100 worth of wool from them.”

Mr Nixon purchases flock rams from Tara Park as he likes the consistent type of ram the Boorowa stud breeds.

“I like them to be upstanding – we’re big on constitution, so the main thing is structure.

“They’ve got to be heavy boned with good feet.”

He’s also been working on his own flock, with help from classer Greg Carmody.

“We’re classing out 30 per cent to improve the standard of our whole flock,” Mr Nixon said.

“A lot of that is based on structure and the wool type, but we don't class out on age, so we’ve still got ewes here that are eight and still producing lambs.

“Age is not a factor in our breeding process is they're making money for us.”