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Andy's Antics

Andy's Antics

2016 HR Report

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Finally there has been a couple of wide spread general rain events and allot of Merino producers that have been missing out for years have received very good soaking rain. Hopefully these producers can begin to rebuild their numbers and take advantage of the numerous opportunities in the present Merino markets.

At Haddon Rig we completed general shearing in mid December. We were experiencing an extremely dry summer but were very happy with 8000 ewes averaging a little over 7.5kg of wool per head. The wool tested extremely well with an average micron of 19.8 and when sold in mid January averaged 900c per kilogram clean.

The ewes weaned 126% of lambs (including maidens) in October then went on to average $68 per head when shorn in December. We sold all of our CFA (1650) ewes for $155 per head (bare shorn) and our surplus 2014 drop ewes for $150 (1500) per head (bare shorn). Then after a very dry six months scanned 141% in lamb in March 2016.

We are now well into selling last year’s wether lambs at $5.80 per kg or $125 per head out of our feedlot and will start selling them off the green feed shortly. Everything has made producing merinos extremely profitable and breeding them very enjoyable. Merinos really are a dual purpose self replacing sheep.

Early 2016 saw us demolish the old sheep yards behind our woolshed and design and build a brand new set of Atlex sheep yards. We build a race to fit a sheep handler, a three way draft and a new ram selecting/classing race. All three of these run off one big bugle system. The main working area of the yards is complete and flows extremely well. We still have some outer yards to complete but so far are very happy with the new set up.

The 2015 drop rams being prepared for the 2016 selling season were fed grain in lick feeders all spring and summer and have grown out very well. Thanks to the massive lambing percentage and number of ram lambs to select from the quality is excellent and the rams will present very well come September.

The Haddon Rig ram sale will held on the 8th September this year. At the sale this year we will be celebrating 100 years of the Falkiner family owning the Haddon Rig Merino stud.

June 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Meet the 2015 HR Stud Team; Shannon, Andy, Dave, Nick and George

Its been a wet start to winter at Haddon Rig and we're not complaining as wool prices and meat prices are both looking good. Rach and I and the girls are off on a holiday for the next two weeks after a busy start to the year. Hope you're all enjoying a good season and I'm looking forward to catching up with you out and about. 

110% weaning rate in 2014
Late 2014 at Haddon Rig we weaned over 110% of lambs for the 2nd year running. General shearing started in the 2nd week of December. Haddon Rig also received over 4 inches of rain in the first week of December. Shearing was completed on the 12th and due to the rain and ideal fresh feed I decided to join straight off the board before Christmas. 

57% twin bearing ewes from 2100 maiden ewes joined before Christmas
8502 HR Stud and flock ewes were joined on the 18th December (mixed age ewes at 1.5% & maidens at 2%) for six weeks. Sires were pulled out on the 29th January and scanning commenced 6 weeks later on the 11th March. We discovered the Haddon Rig ewes continue to perform after 2 magnificent lambing’s. Craig Chad scanned 5% empty, 38% singles and a massive 57% twin bearing ewes including 2100 maiden ewes. All of the ewes scanned 151% in lamb; this is a potential 12,838 lambs in 8502 ewes.

More lambs than paddock space: a merino breeder’s dilemna
AI ewes have completed lambing; they look great and will be tagged and marked soon. In previous years twin bearing ewes were split into mobs of 125. Due to the great scanning result and tremendous amount of twin bearing ewes we started to run short of paddocks. As a result twins were split into mobs of 140 to 150; it will be interesting to see if there is any impact on the lambing numbers.

Focusing on diligent pest control for good lambing conditions
We have completed three extensive fox baiting programmes as well as regular pig shoots and trapping. Haddon Rig has been very fortunate to receive good rain in early May and all ewes started lambing on the 15th May and have been lambing for two weeks now and look great. 

Stud team swaps motorbikes for tractors with sowing underway
The team has been busy for the last eight weeks with sowing. We started sowing oats at the end of March then followed into canola, lupins and wheat. With 70% of the crop planted we have been pulled up with rain and have mainly chick pea left to plant. The stud team have been running the smaller 40 foot air seeder 24 hours a day. Jackaroos Dave Henderson and Nick Spora have been doing 12 hour shifts each and have enjoyed the variation in work and learning new skills and have done a great job.

New dates for your diary
The 2015 Haddon Ram sale will be held 1 month earlier this year on Thursday 10th September. This to free up the Haddon Rig work programme by completing the Ram sale and selections so we can wean the lambs before the grass seed sets in early October. After a fantastic winter season the rams are looking great and will present extremely well come September. 

HR Rams topping 100kgs
The Rams in the Ram Shed are progressing well with a few rams over 100kg at last weighing in mid-May. The HR Poll stud continues to rapidly improve with progeny of the Moorundie Park ewes we purchased in late 2013 also on display this year.

Andy Maclean
HR Stud Manager

July 2014 Update

Monday, July 07, 2014
Weaning took place towards the end of 2013. Thankfully the winter rain had carried the ewes and lambs very well, weaning a hefty 115% (to ewes joined) of healthy fit lambs. This weaning percentage is a magnificent result (considering the tough year the ewes endured) and shows the production of the Haddon Rig Stud. These lambs will be classed as they grow over the next 12 months and the numbers will give the stud a great boost in the coming years.

Late November saw the arrival of another 150 five year old Poll Stud ewes purchased from Moorundie Park Poll Merino Stud in South Australia. These ewes were purchased in full wool just prior to shearing and displayed long, white, stylish, lustrous fleeces on massive correct, long, deep, bodies. We also purchased semen from 4 top Moorundie Park poll sires to use on the purchased stud ewes and the HR top poll stud ewes in December. The purchase of these top genetics will really boost our already rapidly improving Poll stud and I am anxiously waiting to inspect all of the AI lambs when they hit the deck in May 2014.

One of the latest innovations on Haddon Rig is the purchase of a Hecton sheep handler. The Hecton has been great for handling sale rams and stud sires for tow cutting, side sampling, horn cutting and any other job we need to do with them. We also set the Hecton up on the board in the shearing shed for AI. Instead of manually turning the heavy Stud ewes over dragging them out and lifting them up into the cradles, the ewes walked up the race quietly were caught by the Hecton and carefully turned and slid into the AI cradle. The whole process was very easy and much less stress on the ewes, in one hot December day we easily did over 500 ewes.

The biggest and best innovation for the year was the purchase and construction of a 105 acre towable centre pivot irrigator. The pivot is 350 metres long and can be easily towed from one hydrant to the next; it takes about 11 hours to put 1 inch (25mm) of water on a crop. The pivot was made by Valley and constructed by Darling Irrigation from Narromine in January. It is fed by a diesel powered pump from the Haddon Rig storage in the Marthaguy creek. Pipe was trenched in to two hydrants on the western side of the creek either side of the front drive.

The Northern pivot plot (for winter grazing) was prepared and sown in early March to Oats and Clover. The area was split into 3 equal segments and is currently been grazed by 1400 wether lambs and 150 Angus steers. The second segment (for summer grazing) has been prepared for Lucerne and will be sown very soon. The pivot will be great security for AI ewes at lambing time and sale rams all year round when the season is against us.

2014 saw us receive another CMA grant to do another 15 km of internal stock fencing on HR. We are now completing this project, enabling us to more effectively graze the larger paddocks. It will also assist us with extra lambing paddocks to split mobs and reduce mis-mothering. 

We commenced the 2014 general shearing (with 13 shearers) in early December and were very happy with the condition of the ewes after a huge lambing and an extremely dry finish to the year. 7160 Mixed Age Merino and Poll Merino Stud ewes averaged 7.4kg per head of 19.7 micron wool. 1078 Mixed Age Special stud AI ewes averaged 8.1kg. The wool showed the effects of the dry year but was soft, long and white and very low in VM. All of the fleece wool, bellies, pieces, locks and stain sold at 700c per kilo and averaged $1328 per bale.

The Stud ewes were joined on Monday the 6th of January for 6 weeks. Ewes were trail fed 200 grams per day of barley and lupins to improve body condition and encourage the ewes to cycle. It was one of the hottest Januarys on record. Scanning of the ewes commenced on Monday 1st April. We discovered that the hot dry joining and lack of nutrition in the feed had affected the ewes with there being allot less twin bearing ewes than previous years. Although there were only 6% of the ewes dry, there were only 40% carrying twins compared to 55% last year.   

Haddon Rig received great rain in March and we have had great follow up rain since. This has resulted in the best Autumn I have seen here. The season has carried on into the winter and all of the stud ewes are lambing very well on ideal feed. It would be great to see the rain keep coming and give all of our friends to the north and west a long deserved break.
As a result of the season and our great lambing, the sale rams that will be presented in October are extremely well grown and are the best quality rams we have had for a long time. I would like to wish everybody the best for the second half of 2014 and look forward to seeing everyone in the coming months.

Andy Maclean, Haddon Rig.

Information Day yields plenty of pointers for producers

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The recent Haddon Rig Merino Information Day and Poll Stud Launch - held on September 13 by Haddon Rig in the stud’s woolshed - was strongly supported by more than 60 sheep producers – all keen to be educated and gather information about the genetic, nutritional and management advances available within the Merino industry.

Dr Jason Trompf (pictured above and far right) co-designed the successful Bred Well, Fed Well program, and his theories have helped lift Haddon Rig’s lambing percentage by 20% this year. Dr Trompf promotes the utilisation of ASBVs for ram selection as they are a great help and guide for sheep classers and breeders to aid them in their selection of rams, after they have been classed.  In his typical lively manner, he presented scientific facts behind Merino management and gained immediate feedback from the room of current husbandry practice and beliefs, and an indication of the potential changes and subsequent probable improvement in these areas.

Robert Bell (pictured right, giving his presentation) is a well-known feed nutritionist from Livestock Central,  and he spoke about the digestive properties and conversion of feed materials within sheep. He stressed the importance of maintaining ewes' condition prior to lambing. Robert’s tailored advice regarding feed requirements in Western NSW was also instrumental in Haddon Rig’s twin-bearing ewes achieving a lambing percentage of 155 lambs marked per 100 ewes this year. His contribution to the day was much appreciated by all.

Haddon Rig’s Sheep Classer, Andy McLeod (pictured far right), then gave a hands-on demonstration of traditional sheep classing. He emphasised the four “Cs”, which he had initially been taught as a youngster – Conformation, Constitution, Correctness, and Coverage. Andy explained the importance of visually selecting sires with loose, productive skins and wools with lock to maintain wool cut, character and crimp. Also important is selecting the right combination of staple length and wool density to stop the fleece from opening up and letting in dust and weather.

Andy McLeod and Jason Trompf then together considered ASBVs (Australian Sheep Breeding Values) for the different types of rams within the stud’s 2013 auction team and sires. The relative merits of each ram were openly discussed, from both the scientific and visual angle, with lively grower participation. Mostly the ASBVs corresponded with the way the sheep had been selected for merit. But where they did not line up was for a reason that could not be measured scientifically, ie: one of the four “C’s”.

Key points from the day were:

- Utilise a professional classer for your sheep
- Buy the best genetics you can afford
- Pregnancy Scan ewes five weeks after joining and manage accordingly
- Analyse feed. For twin-bearing ewes, aim for 2kg/head/day of high quality natural pasture or supplement as required (approximately 50% of total ewes joined will be pregnant with twins)
- Split up ewes three weeks prior to lambing, into smaller mob sizes
- Lamb in smaller mobs. If insufficient paddocks, lamb single-bearing ewes in larger mobs, freeing up country for twin-bearing ewes
- Control of worms
- Control of predators – baiting, trapping, hunting
- Utilise professional help
- Contact CMA regarding funding opportunities for sub-divisional fencing and water improvements
- Feed - if in doubt as to quality, cut a sample and send to Weston Foods (NSW). Aim for correct nutrition for lactating ewes

The value of this day was that it emulated the ideal combination of both science and tradition, delivering useful, thought-provoking information in a combination of theory and hands-on demonstrations. Haddon Rig plans to incorporate more such educational days into its annual program – adding to the service it provides to its clients and the Merino industry nationally.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the day.

August 2013 Update

Sunday, July 14, 2013

We pulled the stud sires out of the stud ewes at the end of February, after what was one of the hottest, driest joinings on record. After the rams came out, we stopped feeding them a small ration of grain and kept the Four Seasons blocks up to them, to try and utilise the old summer feed. Thinking the heat and lack of good feed would have effected the joining, we were very happy with the results when we scanned on the 16th of April. 3976 mixed-age stud ewes had 36% singles, 60% twins and only 4% dry. A total of 5491 stud ewes - including maidens - had 43% singles, 52% twins and 5% dry. As you can see in the photo above, we had plenty of helpers for marking stud lambs by HR 1-609 in the first week of July, due to school holidays.

With the season proving to be very tough again, we had to keep all of the ewes in good condition to look after them - and the lambs inside them. The 2855 twin-bearing ewes were fed twice a week a ration of 80% cotton seed and 20% barley. This ration held them well until one prior to lambing, when we split the ewes up into 23 paddocks and mobs of around 130 ewes. Single-bearing ewes were on lick blocks until one month prior to lambing, then split into mobs of around 500 and put on the same ration as the twins. The photo, above left, shows the filling of feeders for twin-bearing ewes. 

Ten days before we started lambing (3rd June) it started to rain, and we have had over six inches (150mm) since. Heavily pregnant ewes at the start of lambing struggled with the wet weather and no feed. Now the ewes have adjusted to the feed and it is long enough for them to get some benefit from. The ewes are lambing very well and there are around three weeks of lambing left.

The nine kilometres of fencing we started on in February has turned into around 17km. Haddon Rig's Shannon Mitchell designed and built a fencing trailer. The trailer holds 100 steel posts, five plain wire spinners and one barbed wire spinner. The trailer has made erecting new fences very quick and the jackaroos have enjoyed being taught the tricks of the trade. Pictured, right, is Pete Brooker and Shannon Mitchell using the post driver. Pictured, below, is Shannon driving in steel posts. 

Last month, we mothered up, tagged and marked this year’s ET and AI lambs. Although it was very dry when they lambed, the lambs are big healthy ones and are powering along well on the green feed.

February 2013 Update

Monday, February 18, 2013

After experiencing very wet summers for the past three years, the season at Haddon Rig at the moment is extremely dry. We have received only 103mm of rain since June, 2012, in scattered storms.

All of the stud ewes are in good condition and we are right in the middle of joining. We drafted all of the ewes into condition score groups and are trail feeding them all 200 grams per head per day of Barley, Lupins and 2.5% Elders' sheep intensive pellet. The ewes that were a bit lighter are on grain lick feeders as well to hopefully increase there body weight quicker and encourage them to cycle for the rams.

We have completed an AI as well as an ET program with the top horned and poll ewes. In the horned ewes we used our better performing older sires a well as two young sires to see how they will perform. We also used Wanganella 19 - an extremely big, productive sire with a great outlook and heavy, soft, bulky medium wool on him. In the polls, we used Wallaloo Park 3 (Real Deal) and Moorundie Park B301. Both sires have very pure polled heads, extremely stylish, bright, long-stapled wool, and are structurally fault-free. Hopefully there is a break in the season soon and there is green feed for the lambs when they hit the ground in May.

Andy McLeod and Forbes Murdoch are here today (18/2/13) to select the top 60 young rams out of the 2012 drop ram lambs. These young rams will be blade shorn and inspected on the 1st of March, and will be the Haddon Rig show team for all of the 2013 Field days, shows and major ram sales that we will attend this year.

In between feeding we have just finished installing four plastic water tanks and seven new concrete troughs to improve our stock water on the southern end of the property. We have also just started to erect 9km of new fencing.

A Snapshot into HR 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

For the third year running, we have recorded above-average rain over the summer months, with all of the stock gaining some much-needed weight that they had lost over the dry winter months. We started 2012 with general shearing and were very pleased with the condition of the ewes coming off the board. Worms still continue to be a problem with the wet hot summers, so we have started doing worm resistance tests and regular FEC with all of the sheep. We are quite happy with the way we controlled them this year.

Again the wool cuts, microns and yields were back a bit due to the season, with a lot of dust and no clover or other herbages through the winter. The wool tested extremely well and sold very well in February. 6184 M/A Stud ewes averaged 19.3 micron, 19.0 CV, 3.9 SD, and 99.1 CF and yielded 65.6%. Overall - including the ewe lambs - the wool averaged $1627 per bale at general shearing. In total, all wool for the year on HR and Carwell (a leased place at Quambone) totalled 437 bales.

The rams were put out in mid-January in great working order. At the end of joining we received 177mm (708 points) in one night, which caused some very big floods in all of our local creeks. This didn’t seem to worry the joining much as at scanning, in early April, we discovered the sires had performed extremely well. 5236 ewes (not including the AI's) scanned 51% Twins, 44% Singles and 5% Dry.

The season had turned very dry so we have been trail feeding all of these ewes with Barley and Lupins. .

Another piece of exciting news from HR is the introduction of 250 Moorundie Park Poll Stud ewes from South Australia - one of Australia’s leading Poll Merino Studs. These ewes display some very exciting characteristics with some of the young ewes weighing up to 90kg. They are massive, plain-bodied ewes with the ability to cut a lot of good wool, and they also provide Haddon Rig with a pure Poll Merino background to work with. Haddon Rig also purchased semen from Moorundie Park and Poll Boonoke sires. These ewes were inseminated in mid-January and I am very excited by their progeny, which hit the ground in June.