Apparel Wool, Meat for a Feast

The ‘best of both worlds’

Hannah Powe 28 Aug 2017,The Land

 

BOTH carcase and wool quality are achievable using dual purpose Dohne genetics, says Barker Trading Partnership owner, Wal Barker, “Cooroora”, Grenfell.

He owns and leases land for his mixed farming enterprise across a total of 1821 hectares.

Previously a pure Merino breeder of many years, Mr Barker said they changed to Dohnes when the wool prices slumped and did not pick up for 15 years.

“We were selling wether lambs and thought we better have a better body,” he said.

Mr Barker now joins 3400 pure Dohne ewes to lamb in September. His flock is self-replacing and he retains up to 90 per cent of the ewe lambs each year.

“Breeding Dohnes for so many years means we don’t need to cull heavily,” he said.

Mr Barker said Dohnes were chosen as a true dual purpose sheep with quality of wool that couldn’t be picked apart from Merinos.

Bloodlines are based on years of his own breeding as well as rams purchased from Gullendah stud, Yeoval.

With a 20.2-micron averagefibre diametre, Mr Barker said he looked for desirable wool quality, including style and density. Little emphasis was put on Australian sheep breeding values, as he had been breeding sheep long enough, and felt he knew how to select a good sheep suited to the enterprise.

The flock was classed by Australian Dohne Breeder Association approved classer, Allan Clarke, Dubbo.

Ewes were culled on body size, conformation, bad feet and bad wool type. Mr Barker said anything not true to type was culled.

“Culls and cast-for-age ewes are sold in February. We advertise through agents and people come in and buy on property,” he said.

“Anything that leaves our place and goes to the yards doesn’t come back. We don’t want to risk biosecurity.”

Lambs are sold over the hooks to Southern Meats at Goulburn, targeting the 24 kilogram carcase weight specifications.

Whether lambs were supplemented prior to sale with a lupin and oat mix in a lick feeder and with hay.

With wool prices at a record high, Dohne breeders might have the best of both worlds at the moment with the ability to produce high quality fleeces and carcases that meet market specifications.

Running a commercial Dohne flock of a total of 5000 sheep, Mr Barker said commercial Dohnes have versatility. They are a true dual purpose type, with fertility, growing quality wool, and meat products.

“They aren’t fussy sheep, they eat anything and are non-selective grazers, unlike Merinos. They suit the country here well,” he said.

“We have lambing rates of 100 per cent in our maidens, and average 120pc over the entire flock, which is good,”

“Dohnes have high fertility and are good mothers. They look after their lambs well, which increases lamb survival rates.”

Mr Barker said he was conservative with his current numbers because he was a mixed farmer, so made sure he wasn’t overstocked.

However, he intends to build his flock size in the coming years.

The best of both worlds

Wal Barker, Barker Trading Partnership, “Cooroora”, Grenfell, and his dog Russell Coight, runs a 5000 head flock of Dohnes as part of his mixed farming enterprise.

Practical Guide
Dohne Database