What’s happening on the farm?

There are many hats that farmers wear within their businesses. Many of these hats are the same no matter what size your farm and enterprise. These hats include pasture management/ animal nutrition, managing the breeding program of stock, harvesting of your product (eg. shearing), marketing your product to buyers, farm budgeting, fence maintenance, natural resource management and strategic planning for the future.

For my small wool and lamb enterprise, the key success factor and focus is on breeding healthy lambs – so of the other elements of the business fall around the reproductive cycle of the flock. For other farming businesses the focus may be around optimising other activities such as shearing if the wool clip is the main income stream.

At Quebon we choose that our main lambing in September, which gives me the best results. On-selling lambs are our main income source, followed by wool. Below is our annual calendar of activities that aims to give the best success.

January: Wean lambs; Ewes return to ‘maintenance feed’.

February: Lambs can start to be sold. Ram lambs separated into the ram paddock (to prevent them from joining with ewes). Show season commences.

March:

April: Joining

May:

June:

July: Start to increase ewes energy intake coming into third trimester of gestation* and lactation*.

August: Shearing (Sheep are clean for lambing so I can monitor udder springing and body condition visually); vaccinate ewes (with annual booster so immunity is passed onto unborn lamb); Backline (for external parasites ie. lice as a preventative measure); drench (for internal parasitises ie. worms).

September: Lambing (check on ewes & lambs twice every day)

October: Rams annual testing for Ovine Brucellosis*Free Accreditation scheme

November: Mark lambs (1st 6in1 vaccination*, Gudair OJD* vaccination, tail dock, castrate if required)

December: Lambs 2nd 6in1 vaccination; NLIS* ear tag; Drench* (for Barber’s Pole and Liver Fluke when it is hot and wet)

* Glossary:

Drench: Chemical treatment administrated orally in the prevention and elimination of worms.
Gestation: Term of pregnancy.
Joining: Putting selected rams in paddock with selected ewes to give the best possible genetic outcome.
Lactation: Production of milk for lambs.
Lambing: Ewes giving birth to lambs.
Marking: The process of getting lambs into the stock yards for a series of treatments such as vaccinating, tail docking, castrating ram lambs.
NLIS: National Livestock Identification System
OJD: Ovine Johnes Disease – a wasting disease in sheep affecting the small intestine
Ovine Brucellosis: A ‘STI’ disease in rams that causes miscarriages in ewes
6in1 vaccination: Protection against cheesy gland and the five main clostridial diseases (pulpy kidney, tetanus, malignant oedema, black disease, blackleg).   Annual booster required.

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Baa Baa Black Sheep – why become a sheep farmer?

I’m a small-scale farmer. My small coloured Corriedale sheep flock was established in 2004 when I finished high school, in the Hawkesbury District of western Sydney. In 2010 the flock and I re-located to Boorowa on the South West Slopes of NSW.

So why become a sheep farmer? Like you I have a passion for working with animals. I love what I learn from them and I enjoy the challenging responsibility. Sheep are so accessible (easy to buy a few) and they produce products that you use on a weekly basis – wool and lamb.

Owning sheep (as opposed to other livestock species) also allowed me to manage my flock independently: I am able to set-up make-shift yards on my own (a few star-posts, gates and sheep mesh); transport the sheep in an enclosed box trailer on the back of my car – no transport carrier required; I can safely carry out routine husbandry tasks on my own.

From before I started with my own flock and to today, having other sheep breeders I can call and visit has been so valuable to my own learning. I had little previous experience with farming, growing up in the suburbs of Sydney. When starting up your own flock, everything there is to know about sheep farming – you will experience for the first time, and you will need some advice along the way.

A common associated thought with farming is to own land – a high capital cost that may be a longer term goal when you first want to set up your own livestock enterprise. I’ve been fortunate to be able to secure a paddock in both locations, and be self-sufficient.

For an insight into my flock, visit www.QuebonColouredSheep.com