Bigger sheep more wool
PYRAMID Hill wool producer Peter Hare chooses Monaro Merino rams for their size, working on the theory that the bigger the sheep is, the more wool it will produce.
And having bred Merinos for more than 35 years, he knows a thing or two about a good ram.
Mr Hare runs a self-replacing Merino flock of 1600 ewes on 2025 hectares in northern Victoria, producing fine to medium wool.
His autumn-lambing ewes will be joined in November, before the main shearing is held in March.
The weaners produce wool of 18.2-18.3 micron while the adult sheep average 20M.
"I am aiming for 19-20M wool, because these days there is not much price difference between 19M and 21M," he said.
"The lambs cut three to four kilograms of wool, while the mature sheep cut more than 7kg."
Mr Hare produces 80-100 bales a year.
A 100 per cent overall lambing percentage is being achieved, with first-time mothers reaching 78pc lambing.
Wether lambs are sold each year to a long-term direct buyer who grows them out.
Mr Hare said many Merino breeders also produced crossbreds with their cull ewes, but he has always been a wool man.
"I just prefer wool-producing to meat-producing and like to focus on the one thing," he said.
He has been using Monaro Merino rams from Hazelwood stud since he started breeding sheep and has "had a good run with them".
"I used to go up to the Monaro to get them but have been buying them from the Litchfields, Hay, NSW, sale since it began in 1997," he said.
With all sheep on his property full vaccinated for ovine Johne's disease (OJD), he will have no cross-border issues when new laws are introduced in 2013.
Up until April last year, Mr Hare irrigated sections of his property from the Loddon district irrigation channels.
"Now, with them wanting to close up channels, restricted allocation and not being able to get the water when we need it, it isn't worth the trouble," Mr Hare said.
"Most of my land is still viable without the irrigation water and of course there was a financial reward for selling the water."