For James and Bianca Brady management is key to their successful lamb operation at Eurongilly in the Riverina.
Breeding composite sheep Mr Brady has their practices down to a fine art with the calendar planned out for all major operations to improve efficiency.
With a self replacing composite flock Mr Brady said they breed about 1200 to 1500 ewe lambs every year.
He said 1600 of their ewes were joined to maternals, 3500 to Poll Dorsets and another 1000 ewe lambs also joined to the Dorsets.
Poll Dorset rams have been sourced from Kentish Downs, Wagga Wagga, by Craig Wilson, Collingullie, while maternal composite rams have come from Mount Ronan, Western Australia.
Mr Brady said they had also recently bought a few UltraWhite shedding rams from Hillcroft Farms, WA, to cross with some of their best bare bellied and bare faced ewes.
"To see if we can transition to a bit of a shedding flock in the future," he said.
The ewes are joined the first week of December, shorn the first week of February and scanned the first week of March.
It sounds simple and with a 1500 hectare property, of which two thirds is grazing crop and one third pasture, it needs to be to increase efficiency, and Mr Brady said there was still flexibility if conditions dictated.
"We've gone to a three week joining, then rams come out for a week, then in for another three weeks so the scanner can definitely say they're early or they're late," he said.
"We like to have a nice little uniform mob of lambs - it saves work by the end by not having to muster all your lambs to weigh them and you've always got your biggest lambs in one mob as they come through."
Mr Brady said the three week joining blocks staggered out the workload throughout the year, and also provided the definitive lambing period to help manage grazing better.
"After the first scanning all the ewes who scan dry are effectively rejoined straight away for another six weeks or so in three week blocks - we're only ending up with about one per cent dry each year," he said.
"We end up with a few late lambs but generally we've got enough feed to carry right through."
The sheep are grazed on dual purpose wheat, Illabo, and canola, RGT Nizza and Feast, which had several benefits including filling the autumn/winter feed gap but also assisting with their management.
"Depending on season the twins will lamb on the wheat and canola and singles get pushed up onto paddocks up the back and older ewes will lamb on lucerne clover pasture generally," he said.
"We're only lambing for three weeks, a week off, then three weeks, a week off and three weeks we can lock our ewes up if they're short of feed or minimise their intake if they're getting too fat."
Mr Brady said the lambs generally stayed on the crop from mid May until about mid August and were sold to Gundagai Meat Processers, Woolworths or Coles, at about 16 to 20 weeks of age.
"Our target is the sucker market - the 24 to 26 kilogram carcase weight without having to shear them," he said.
Mr Brady said for their flock they were aiming for high fat, high muscle and early growth.
"We have high stocking rates so we need a ewe that can survive on minimal pasture over summer time so she can can get fat in springtime and live on that stored fat over summer to autumn," he said.
"We're also trying to have less wool - pick out the lowest wool cutting rams out of the catalogue to try and create some bare faces and bare bellies that don't need mulesing."
Their high stocking rates, of 10 ewes and lambs to the hectare on pastures in springtime, was one of the reasons Mr Brady said they grazed on the dual purpose crops.
"About two thirds to three quarters of our biomass we grow in about eight to 12 weeks in springtime so you need to have a high enough stocking rate to eat that feed otherwise it just goes to waste," he said.
"You need to have a stocking rate to sustain that and the only way we can do that is to have the grazing crops to fill that early winter feed period."
Mr Brady said they needed to turn their lambs off by October/November when the pasture quality starts to run out and lamb in early May to enable them to get the lambs to the target weight so the grazing crops suited their operation well.
"We seem to be getting more of this February/March storm rain and missing out on the April sowing rain so we can get a grazing crops in February/March most years," he said.
He said management wise the sheep required a lick of calcium, sodium and magnesium, however otherwise they had not had any issues and had seen the benefits.
"The ewes that lamb on pasture always seem to lose a bit of weight, the ewes that lamb on wheat always put weight on and grazing canola jury's still a bit out if they gain weight or lose weight, or hold their weight," he said.
"In the grazing wheat there's no worms in the lambs or ewes and they really rocket ahead.
"You can really tell the difference between the ones that lamb on pasture compared to the ones that lamb on wheat - they are free of all internal parasites and they maximise their growth rates."
The Brady's moved from Cooma about 20 years ago where they ran Merinos and Dohnes but switched to the composites at Eurongilly.
"This country is a bit more suited to growing lambs and liveweight gain rather than wool growing country," he said.
"It suits our high stocking rate, minimal labour philosophy."
Mr Brady said so far this year's season had been marvellous.
"We're set up well, got plenty of pasture feed for the next four to six weeks, which will enable us to get three quarters off our lambs off," he said.
"We had a fantastic opening break and the clover germinated early February."
Mr Brady said they had a terrific autumn and winter where it did not get overly wet.
"We would just like a good shower of rain to fill the potential of the crops," he said.
"The crops some of the best we've grown so far - no disease in them and they look nice and clean and bulky.
"The canola is flowering well so the yield potential is still fantastic."
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