Apparel Wool, Meat for a Feast

Pyles aim for purebred ewe flock

By Kyah Peeti Farm Weekly

Brothers and business partners, Tim (left) and David Pyle manage 6480 hectares at Manypeaks, with the help of their father Jeff, Tims wife Vanessa and their two sons and Davids wife Gemma and their four boys.

A transition into running a purebred Dohne ewe flock, and increasing fat lamb production is the ultimate goal for the Pyle family to drive its breeding program on its Manypeaks property, Millstream Pastoral.

Brothers and business partners Tim and David Pyle manage 6480 hectares of land in the Great Southern region, with the help of their father Jeff, Tim’s wife Vanessa and their two sons and David’s wife Gemma and their four boys.

The Pyles have been farming in the Manypeaks area since Tim and David’s grandfather, and his relatives migrated from Victoria and began sheep farming in the 1960s.

The original operation consisted of running purebred Merino ewes joined with Merino sires, which then evolved into breeding Merino ewes with terminal Poll Dorset sires to produce crossbred lambs for the meat market.

Since then, the Pyle’s decided to shift into using White Suffolks as their terminal sires of choice, due to their weight gain improvements and introduced Dohne genetics.

Prime lamb production is still the major business driver at Millstream Pastoral, and the Pyle family members are currently aiming to breed their ewe base into a purebred Dohne flock that will thrive in their high rainfall region on minimal inputs to maximise production.

The Pyle family is transitioning into running a purebred Dohne ewe flock, and increasing lamb fat production, which is the ultimate goal to drive their breeding program to success.

The decision to merge into breeding Dohne’s eight years ago, was a quite simple one according to Tim Pyle.

“We saw gains in producing a more fast growing lamb, with better weight gains, which we knew Dohne’s could give us,” Mr Pyle said.

“It was also really positive that it wouldn’t affect or impact the way we market our wool because the Dohne and Merino wool is able to go in the same bale together.”

Mr Pyle said the Dohnes were the perfect way to put more weight onto their lambs without disrupting anything else in their operation.

“Since we’ve started breeding them, we have noticed they are much more resilient, easy-care and exceptionally good mothers that have the ability to survive and thrive really well down here,” he said.

“I have also seen an increase in our lambing percentage too.”

Millstream Pastoral has 16,000 ewes, comprising 6000 pure Merinos (with 2000 of those mated to Poll Merino rams for wool production), 10,000 Dohne, and Dohne-Merino cross ewes, as well as 950 predominantly Angus breeding cattle.

The breeding program consists of the Dohne ewes and their own top-end Dohne-Merino ewes joined with Dohne rams to produce replacements, while the Dohne-Merino ewes that are culled out because they don’t meet breeding objectives, are joined to White Suffolk sires for prime lamb production.

“We have seen a really big improvement in our breeding program already, we always see a benefit from every decision we make quite quickly which I love,” Mr Pyle said.

“The turnoff speed is great and we can have confidence each year producing prime lambs because they are becoming more and more consistent.”

Using quality stud sires in their breeding program has certainly fast-tracked the breeding flock’s genetic improvement.

Millstream Pastoral estimates to sell 8000 crossbred lambs for prime lamb production each year, and aims to fulfil that when lambs are six-months-old and weigh roughly 45 to 50 kilograms, to dress out at 21kg carcase weight.

The Pyle family purchase their White Suffolk sires from Yonga Downs White Suffolk stud, Gnowangerup, Dohne rams from Kintail Park Dohne stud, Jerramungup, prior to its dispersal, Noorla Dohne stud, Williams, and Chirniminup Dohne stud, Nyabing – with Poll Merino rams sourced from the Warralea Poll Merino stud, Gairdner.

Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) and visual appraisal are used when selecting both the Dohne and White Suffolk rams.

“In our Dohnes we look for above average growth rate, average to above average fleece weights, good body conformation with good feet and a visually sound carcase,” Mr Pyle said.

“For our White Suffolks we want fast-growing rams with good early growth rates and a good overall conformation.”

At Millstream Pastoral the ewes, and maiden ewes are joined separately in late November, early December for five weeks, with rams joined at 3pc for both the Dohne and White Suffolk ewes.

“The mature ewes will be separated based on their quality, meaning the Dohne and best Dohne-Merino ewes will receive a Dohne ram, and the remainder will be joined with the White Suffolk rams,” Mr Pyle said.

When the mature ewes were pregnancy scanned, the Pyles recorded a 150-160pc conception rate for the past two years.

At scanning, any ewes that are marked as dries will be sold as mutton to WAMMCO International, Katanning, and Fletchers International Abattoir, Narrikup.

The lambs begin to drop in late May, early June, and are then marked in early July.

“Our marking rate this year and last year was 110pc,” Mr Pyle said.

The animal husbandry practices begin with a GlanEry 7in1 B12 and Scabigard at marking, followed by a second dose of GlanEry at weaning in early September, and an oral drench.

“We do still mules, but we are in the process of breeding our own Dohne rams for our breeding program in the hope to phase-out mulesing in our flock to simplify our management system,” Mr Pyle said.

Post-weaning, the entirety of the White Suffolk-Merino lambs are fattened before they are processed, and the remainder of the ewe lambs are classed at 15-months-old to determine if they will be joined to Dohne or White Suffolk sires.

“This is crucial because we are choosing ewe lambs to breed with Dohne rams to drive the flock forward,” he said.

“We do look at wool quality first, just because we can have trouble with wool down here when it’s wet.”

Mr Pyle said that they want to eliminate the chance of water sitting on the lamb’s back causing dermatitis and wool discoloration.

“We like to make sure the wool is white and stays that way too,” he said.

“We then look at carcase quality, which needs to be a lamb that is wide, deep and long, with no wool around its face.”

Millstream Pastoral estimates to sell 8000 crossbred lambs for prime lamb production each year, and aims to fulfil that when lambs are six-months-old and weigh roughly 45 to 50 kilograms, to dress out at 21kg carcase weight.

“Usually we will have sold 50 to 60pc of our crossbred lambs by October or November each year depending on the season,” Mr Pyle said.

The Pyles lambs are marketed to either WAMMCO or Fletchers, which Mr Pyle said were looking for disease-free, consistent lines of lambs.

Any of the lambs that don’t meet the processing weight will be shorn in December, and then put in the on-farm feedlot or set onto a summer crop that they have been trialling for about three years.

“We generally aim to fatten and graze the lambs on Raphno, which is a type of brassica,” Mr Pyle said.

“It grows during the summer and generally grows really well down here.

“The Raphno is a high protein feed that gives the lambs really good growth, and they love it.”

If the Raphno hasn’t germinated at the time when the Pyles need to fatten their lambs, they will be finished in the feedlot.

“During their time in the feedlot the lambs will be fed an adlib ration of lamb growth pellets from Kojonup Feeds through self feeders,” Mr Pyle said.

“In recent years we have recorded that the lambs are gaining about 250 to 350g of weight per day.”

During the autumn months the sheep are confinement fed.

“The Stirlings to Coast Farmers group was conducting confinement feeding trials and we have been trialling it and it is going really well,” Mr Pyle said.

“We sacrifice paddocks ranging from 10 to 30ha and run 1000-2000 sheep in each depending on the paddock size, which requires them to be fed every second day.”

All of the ewes will be fed rations of pit silage, and as they progress through their gestation periods they will be separated into single and twin-bearing ewes so that their feed requirements can be met.

“We will feed the twin-bearing ewes lupins, barley and silage,” Mr Pyle said.

“By this time of the year there is minimal feed on the ground, so having the sheep in smaller paddocks means they aren’t burning energy and can maintain their condition and continue growing.

“The sheep will remain in confinement until they lamb or until the paddocks have sufficient feed in them.”

Running sheep in the confinement system works great with the Pyles cattle operation and allows the two enterprises to work hand-in-hand.

“The cattle calve down in March so while the sheep are locked up they are able to have access to the rest of the farm,” Mr Pyle said.

“The cattle get fed silage too so it works in that we are feeding all of our stock at once, the two really complement each other.”

The cropping program at Millstream Pastoral consists of 1000ha of canola and 550ha of barley, plus 400ha of oats/ryegrass sown for pasture renovation or hay/silage.

Practical Guide
Dohne Database