From Merinos to composites to shedding Nudies

Sheep Central, July 2, 2021

Nudie ewes at Cashmore Park near Portland. Source – John Keiller.

ENTERPRISE diversification and the psychology of risk and change will be on the menu at a Nudie shedding sheep event in Hamilton this month.

Glenthompson Nudie producers Russell and Fiona Mitchell will outline how they diversified their operation into the shedding sheep at the Meridian Agriculture event on 13 July.

The Mitchells were fifth generation superfine Merino breeders, with some first cross ewes for prime lamb production, before trying some maternal composites about 13 years ago to simply the operation.

“Basically I just lost faith in the production and profitability of the Merino and wool.

“With the composites, every time we tweaked our management, we got an instant benefit,” he said.

“To summarise it, there was less waste.”

The Mitchells started with some Nudies about six years, while retaining the composites, running the sheep on separate blocks.

“We were always intrigued by the concept of the Nudies and everything associated with that, less handling and shearing, so rather than listen to hearsay we thought we would try a few of them ourselves.

“Basically the Nudies had to fit into our maternal systems; if it was going to work, we weren’t going to change anything.”

Mitchells have an appetite for change

Some Nudie rams. Source – John Keiller.

Mr Mitchell said the move into composites made the transition to some Nudies quite easy “and the financial side stacked up.”

“We had our own on-farm analysis and when we compared the data on our own farm with our management, it became clear that composites were the way to go and the Nudies are fitting in with that system.

“You need to know where you are and not listen to all the hearsay; you need to work it out for yourself and get some advice and then implement it on your own property.”

He said the advantages of the Nudies included no shearing or mulesing and less handling, important with the staff shortages in rural areas.

“Maybe the future is in more of these wool-shedding low maintenance animals (for sheep meat).”

Mr Mitchell said they had been part of the Best Wool Best Lamb Group since it started.

“So we were always interested in further education for our farm and farming careers.

“So we were always open to change and to see what was new and if it stacked up, whether we could implement it on our own property.”

University of Melbourne professor Bill Malcolm will speak at the event on the psychology of risk and change. He is currently involved in the NEXUS project, which is exploring profitable and sustainable livestock business in an increasingly variable climate.

Other speakers will be Meridian Agriculture’s senior agronomist Andrew Speirs on wool energy requirements, shedding sheep risks and market access, and; Mecardo general manager Robert Herrmann on the need to grow the sheep meat flock.

Cashmore Park Nudie breeder John Keiller will talk about the pathways to easy care shedding sheep, lamb survival and management, and the relationship between wool diameter and lamb survival. Meridian farm business management consultant will put budget figures to the infrastructure and management advantages of a shedding sheep flock.

The event will run from 9am-4pm at the Hamilton Showgrounds. Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea is provided.

Registration RSVPs are essential by 6 July at Meridian Agriculture’s Casterton office on email at [email protected] or by phone on (03) 5581 2826.


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  1. Frank Egan, July 4, 2021

    G’day, what is the chance of the day being recorded or streamed live? A program like this would be of a huge amount of interest to folks contemplating following this path.

    • John Keiller, March 23, 2022

      Frank. Youtube clips are available on the Cashmore Park web page.

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