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Drive for feed efficiency yields White Suffolk ewe record

Sheep Central, April 21, 2021

White Suffolk breeder Murray Long with his $6500 ewe and from left, front row – Detpa Grove Stud principals Michelle and David Pipkorn, and Trish Betts, Ardlethan, NSW. Standing behind are Jordan, Sophie and Alex Pipkorn, with Elders auctioneer Ross Milne.

A DRIVE for lamb feed efficiency and doability, and meeting the market, has produced a new Australian record price for a White Suffolk ewe.

New South Wales WS breeder Murray Long paid a record $6500 for a ewe ranked highly for her carcase attributes at the Detpa Grove 11th annual mated ewe sale at Jeparit in Victoria last week.

Sale agents Elders sold 107 of 113 ewes at the AuctionsPlus-interfaced sale for an average of $1061, but it was $6500 ewe price tag — easily eclipsing the $5100 set last year at the Ramsay Park ewe dispersal in South Australia – that capped the result.

Detpa Grove stud principal David Pipkorn said the ewe was a unique blend of genetics and exceptionally good in lean meat yield.

The record-priced Detpa Grover ewe – lot 49.

The record setting ewe, Lot 49 180294Tw was sired by Warburn 160048 who is the sire of Detpa Grove stud ram, DG Noble. The ewe has a post-weaning eye muscle depth (PEMD) breeding value was +3.30 and a Total Carcase Production index ranking of 152, and is mated to the high muscling ram sire Somerset 190158.

Mr Long from Pendarra White Suffolk in Ardlethan, New South Wales, said the ewe was the highest performing ewe in the catalogue, would suit his conditions and add to the quality of his stud.

“It was an exciting day,” he said.

“You go there to buy something and it’s no good walking home empty handed.”

Mr Long bought seven ewes, including the second top-priced ewe, Lot 94, 160646Tw for $4000. The 2016 drop ewe has a PEMD of +4.21, was sired by homebred sire 150008 and mated to Somerset 190158.

Mr Long said Lot 49 and the other purchases would fit well into his program.

“I run about 900 stud ewes and my program is based on tight market suitability, high feed efficiency and great doability.

“Lot 49 was the highest performance ewe and the progeny in her were far and away the highest performance sheep in the catalogue, but what was more important was the mix of fat and muscle indexes, progeny fat and low birthweight which really works out here,” he said.

“The muscle index is a good indicator for me about feed efficiency and doability.

“I like to bring pregnant ewes back here so I can let the lambs grow out under my conditions and my regime,” Mr Long said.

“I’ve been buying genetics from David for 25 years and his sheep do very well here.”

Sale exceeded expectations

Mr Pipkorn said the overall sale exceeded expectations.

“There was plenty of good buying through the sale and people were pleased with their purchases.”

“Different people were chasing different things and when they clashed the prices went up fairly high.

“People were looking a balance of all traits, physical and phonotype and genotype and when they all came together there was a fair bit of competition and the overall average was very reasonable.”

Cross-border buyers were keen

South Australian breeders Tim and Philip Duffield from the Strathfield Genetics stud in Stockport bought 20 lots, including the third top-priced ewe, Lot 26, 180779 for $2200.

“We were able to cherry pick the good quality ewes who are mated to sires in the top 1pc for carcase production, eating quality and growth,” Mr Duffield said.

Mr Duffield said his background in veterinary science helped him choose the 20 ewes based on genotype and phenotype to suit the Strathfield Genetics breeding direction.

“It was a very good investment as we forecast a 175pc lambing rate from the 20 ewes.

“The top performing ewes will move into our stud ET program.”

Other volume buyers included Andrew Davidson, Clermont Park, Somerton, NSW who snapped up 10 ewes across the catalogue, along with the Nevin Family, Inglewood, NSW who also picked up a draft of 10 ewes.

Cameron Ferguson, Weetulta, SA, was the successful bidder on Lot 2, 190033, for $2,000, and another seven ewes to bring his tally to eight.

Top ewe was a good buy – Milne

Elders stud stock auctioneer Ross Milne said it was a very good clearance highlighted by the record price.

“It was a fantastic price, but also a good buy; she had a nice balanced set of data, very high muscle, good TCP and a nice type,” he said.

Sales went locally and across Victoria and into New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, including new and repeat buyers and strong support from South Australia.

“It was a very good clearance with a lot of online activity,” Mr Milne said.

“The sheep were very  good all the way through and bidders were taking into consideration performance figures and the phenotype and structure of the sheep.

“Most buyers got good value even though there was a good average of over $1000,” he said.

About 30 people attended the on-property sale, 124 logged in on AuctionsPlus and 19 were bidders, including 13 successful bidders. The online bidders paid to $2000 for the 59 lots sold on AuctionsPlus.

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