HIGH cattle prices pointed New South Wales sheep producer Brent Medway in a different and profitable direction this year.
Earlier this year, the first cross ewe and beef producer at Gunning on the southern tablelands had wanted to buy some cattle to utilise strong pasture growth.
But the price of heifer weaners was out of his reach, forcing him to try another strategy that yielded the full benefits of the extreme demand for ewes and the strong lamb market.
“This year I thought I would hedge my bets.
“So I thought I would recycle… I’ve got a female there, it’s not a cow, but it’s not too bad,” Brent said.
Instead of running on all of his first cross ewe lambs to be sold as unjoined 1.5 year-olds in the annual Yass sale on Monday, he joined about 300 in May at 12-13 months and lambed them down for marketing on AuctionsPlus. He trades as Tolldale Gunning and usually turns off about 1000 first cross ewes annually, and runs about 100 beef cows, across two properties — Neumerella and Tolldale.
Brent’s first lot of 85 scanned twinner ewes, with 152 White Suffolk cross lambs (178 percent) sold for what was then a new national record of $561. Last week his next draft of 92 ewes with 162 lambs (176pc) sold for $624, a new high mark for ewe-lamb units in Australia. Both lots sold online through Nick Harton of Jim Hindmarsh & Son to the same buyer at nearby Crookwell.
“I had all my ducks lined up and everything worked, but there was probably a bit of luck to it, as with most things,” Brent said.
Brent delivered both lots in his own Atkinson with its 48 foot two-deck crate, with the lambs on the top deck and the ewes underneath.
“You’ve got to be careful with them.”
Nick said Brent is a meticulous manager.
“He is definitely one of the leaders around here as far as what he is doing and as far as trying something new.
“He always buys good quality Merinos, does a really good job with them and everything he presents is always Mickey Mouse.”
Nick said the earlier prices for scanned in-lamb ewes “didn’t stack up” and the decision to lamb the ewes down and sell them with their lambs had produced a great result.
“It goes two ways too, the person who bought them gets a good lamb out of them and can join them back knowing they are proven breeders.”
Brent agreed 176-178pc lambs marked is exceptional for maiden first cross ewes, but he puts it down to the season, and the breeding of the Riverina Merino dams and the Retallack and Gleneith Border Leicester rams he uses. However, he scans his pregnant ewes and manages them separately in small paddocks for better control, on clover-ryegrass pastures with no supplementary feeding.
He has been scanning his ewes for multiples and running them separate to the single-bearing ewes for the past 20 years.
“It’s probably the best thing you can do apart from putting out fertiliser.
“If it gets tight you can feed them (the twinners).”
Brent said he normally marks 140-150pc lambs off maiden ewes as 1.5 year-olds, but he said the ewe lambs weighed around 60kgs-plus when the rams went in.
“It was probably a bit better this year because of the season, it was looking pretty rosy when we joined them up.”
He’s not sure if he will try marketing ewes with lambs again.
“But I will have some followers, I know that.
“It was a good solid result.”
On AuctionsPlus yesterday, his 93 single bearing first cross ewes with 93 23kg White Suffolk cross lambs from the May joining were passed in at $501, but sold after the sale for $505 to a buyer at Braidwood, NSW.
First cross ewes sell to $442 at Yass
Brent’s top line of 117 1.5 year-old ewes at Yass’ special first cross sale at the South Eastern Livestock Exchange on Monday sold for $440 through Elders. The line was judged the best presented pen in the offering and was bought by Will and Bruce Fahey from Boorowa.
The top price at the sale was $442, paid by Ken Haynes from ‘Clarevale’, Wheeo, for 45 ewes from Matt and Margaret Croker from Binda sold through Nutrien Livestock.
The sale’s ewe lambs sold to a top price of $420 for 202 offered through Elders by Glen and Keith Gordon, Donach Farms, at Collinrubie.
The SELX sale report said buyers competed in a strong market, with local re-stockers competing with buyers from Cooma, Bombala, Braidwood, Bathurst, Orange, Young, Wagga Wagga and Gundagai.