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.
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)
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.