HARDINESS & PERFORMANCE ARE THE KEY OFFSPRING TRAITS DRAWING CLIENTS TO CLOVEN HILLS
By Kristy McDonald
2017 Stock and Land & Western District Farmer article
EASE of lambing and consistency in turning out trade-weight progeny, are increasingly drawing producers to Cloven Hills Composite genetics.
With a client-based focus and an understanding of modern-day farming challenges, Kate and Chris Dorahy now successfully marry a commercial stud with raising a young family and extensive commitments to the community.
A select annual turn-out of rams, paired with sound understanding of each client’s individual needs, has seen a shift from a variety of genetics on many properties to exclusive use of Cloven Hills rams.
Working together from the ground, up
Traditional fine Merino wool and Angus cattle farmers, Bobbie and Angus McLean grabbed the opportunity to diversify their business interests and introduce their young family to a new experience, a little over two years ago.
“We got the opportunity about three years ago to purchase some land; it was a very run-down lot and we purchased it with its existing stock, which were Dohne blood,” Angus said.
“We’d planned on being a self-replacing enterprise and with being a run-down property, it was going to be too inefficient to successfully run an 80 or 90 kilo sheep.
“Just researching what was around and what was available, I liked Kate and Chris’ philosophy that you can produce high fertility sheep, without having to run big sheep.”
In 2015, the McLeans joined 600 ewes to Cloven Hills rams and a further 1100 to White Suffolk rams.
“Within that first season, we could see that the Cloven Hills Composite blood line was producing a better result,” Bobbie said.
“(The Cloven Hills) offspring were more complete, a better size and shape with a lot of depth and breadth to them, achieving better survival rates.
“The ewes joined better with the Composite rams, lamb survival rates increased and we felt the end product was a better product.
“We then made the decision, to put the Cloven Hills blood line over everything, with the view to be exclusively Cloven Hills going forward.”
Just on a year later, the confidence they gained from seeing the Cloven Hills first cross, is starting to pay dividends.
A lift in scanning and marking percentages of 17 and 30 per cent, respectively, between their first two seasons, has the McLeans confident in their decision.
“With the Cloven Hills bloodlines, the ability to do is exceptionally better than anything else on the property,” Angus said.
“The ewe lambs were a more finished lamb, a thicker, heavier, doing-style sheep and with a lot less attitude; their lambs are also quite consistent, there’s not really much of a tail, which is very impressive.”
The ‘after-market’ package has also been a selling factor.
“I’ve been on a tour with Kate down to the abattoirs and spoken to them as a buyer, so we can better align our product to what the buyer needs,” Bobbie said.
“They have also introduced us to field days run by the Southern Prime Lamb Group – which has also been very helpful for extending our knowledge base.”
Numbers add up
Garry Carlin is a numbers man and the 30-year farmer only has to look at Cloven Hills’ EBVs, to know he has made the right choice for his Wando Vale prime lamb property.
Across their flock of 3000, Garry and wife Sandra see an average 120 per cent lambing rate from the Cloven Hills genetics and a quality trade lamb – perfectly meeting the needs of their business.
“We run a low cost business and the Composite sheep are low cost sheep,” Garry said.
“They are a moderate size sheep, which appeals to me too, because you can obviously run more of them and the ewes have easy lambing; they’re a good doing sheep and the lambs are consistent in reaching that trade weight.”
The Carlins first purchased Cloven Hills genetics seven years ago and have great plans for them to increase their flock, in the immediate future.
Just returning from a New Zealand study tour, Garry has plans for significantly increasing his holdings in the near future, in which Cloven Hills genetics will play a vital role.
“We are going to use those higher EBV rams, along with improving our management systems to lift our percentages; their genetics and those EBVs will definitely help us in that regard and improving our management systems will help us get the best out of those quality genetics.”
Genetics that works from paddock to plate
When you have a national end-buyer with plenty of product to choose from, your prime lamb product must be consistent in quality and quantity.
For Celia Scott’s Ardmeen Farms property at Poolaijelo, Cloven Hills genetics is the starting point for the quality product it sells to major players in the trade lamb market.
The Scott breeding pool has gone through several transformations, working through a variety of Composite genetic combinations to produce maternal ewes, in the past eight years.
“We first started with Cloven Hills about six years ago; we were using a couple of different studs’ genetics, but we were getting too much variety in our maternal ewe composition” Celia said.
“There was not enough uniformity in the adult ewes and their lambs; we were struggling to produce a consistent product that met our end markets needs.”
Four years ago, the property switched exclusively to Cloven Hills and Ardemeen’s 3500 Composite ewe flock has stabilised to the point where 90 per cent of the finished product, fits the trade market.
The Dorahys’ commitment to researching genetic selections and sharing that knowledge is paying dividends for their client in the paddock and the market, ensuring a strong future relationship between Ardmeen and Cloven Hills
“Kate and Chris have done their research to achieve what they’ve achieved and I appreciate that,” Celia said.
“And any query that I’ve had to do with breeding, animal husbandry, or even supplementary feeding, they’re always willing to share their knowledge on the topic because generally they’ve researched or experienced it somewhere along the road.
“We are able to get in contact with them when we need to, which I know some studs find it hard to offer when they have a greater market share with a larger client base.
“They also understand the broader picture, the challenge of being where we are with terrible phone reception, having busy lives and trying to fit that with farming.
“For us the Cloven Hills genetics create a sheep that fits with our environment and business, an animal that doesn’t require a lot of coddling and grows a good lamb quickly.”
|Stock Journal 2014||The Spectator 2012||The Spectator 2011||Western District Farmer 2010|
|Stock & Land 2010|