With export lamb prices hitting record highs, it's fantastic to see sheep enterprises are moving forward in leaps and bounds in NSW. According to the DPI, wool enterprise returns increasing by $9.50 on average per DSE. The 20 Micron wether enterprise saw the largest gain, with the gross margin up $13.07 to $49/DSE, increasing the gross margin/ha to $490 at a stocking rate of 10DSE/ha. s such, despite another dry year for most Eastern regions of Australia, Haddon Rig is confident in the future of the Merino industry and the performance of the Haddon Rig Merino.

Haddon Rig merinos continue to cut abundant, quality wool and produce a lot of strong lambs. In 2019, after two years of non-stop feeding, we weaned 91% of lambs to ewes joined, testament to the fertility and robustness of HR genetics. We are also cutting an average of 7.5-8 kgs of wool from HR ewes, giving us returns of over $101/hd at current prices. We have been pleased to see many of our clients achieving similar results for their weaning and shearing.

The sheep market continues to improve, with wool prices at record highs of 2000c/kg for 21u and meat at $7-$8/kg, buoyed by limited domestic supply and demand for quality food and fibre from our export markets. With prices like these, the sheep game remains profitable even with drought feeding. In fact, we have found the wool cheque alone covers the cost of drought feeding. As such, we are expanding our sheep production, streamlining our operations and maximising our capacity to carry sheep for when it does rain. For our clients, it is a good time to be strengthening the breeding base of Merino and Poll flocks. So that when this drought breaks, we can all hit the ground running. For more figures, click here or head to the ANZ's 2019 "Shear Brilliance" Sheep report.

We have been looking at how to increase efficiency across the entire production line, by re-examining our labour and technology usage, data intelligence, grazing management, weaning, feeding and stocking rates. we invite you to join us at our 2019 Open Day (August 14), as we will be sharing, the results of our 2018 early weaning program, feed lotting and centre pivot system and results of DNA testing.


We are seeing continued demand for our Poll rams, buoyed by strong returns for meat, with Merino meat prices being on a par with the cross-bred/kg. Our Poll Stud continues to improve in leaps and bounds, with key genetic purchases again made in 2018[CB1] , improvements to information collection and a strong focus on growth, fertility and productivity traits.


In 2018, we DNA tested our entire Poll flock and 2018 lambs for full pedigree data and Poll genes. This provides our clients with a huge advantage by enabling greater accuracy and reliability of data when it comes to making selection decisions.  

 With DNA profiling, Haddon Rig clients can: 

-      Make better buying decisions using the most accurate data available

-      Make better breeding decisions at joining time 

-      Identify and select animals that carry the PP poll gene

-      Access accurate data sets for each animal regarding parentage and ancestry, ASBVs, interval weights and wool characteristics including wool growth, wool weights and various fibre dynamics

-      Access dynamic ASBV information and ongoing measurements for each individual animal as they progress 

Investing in DNA testing has enabled Haddon Rig to collect and interpret data quicker and more accurately than ever before. We can see sire, ewe, grandparents and a full range of information including ASBVs, weights as they are collected, as well as growth, wool weights and various fibre characteristics. 

DNA and ASBV data are utilised during classing, live in the yards, which enables us to make real-time decisions using visual and data cues. When selecting rams, clients and classers can be confident in selecting animals using this information, enabling better breeding and purchasing decisions. This system will boost our clients’ confidence in Haddon Rig’s ASBV records and collection. 

Merino Stud Outlook

We have a very strong sale team this year with shedded rams putting on an average of 270 grams a day and paddock rams putting on an average of 250 grams a day, with the top end much better for both groups. The 2019 Sale rams are currently grazing the centre-pivot irrigated grazing oats. Our plan is to now DNA test the Merino Stud group for full pedigrees and ASBVs to further develop our data-collection accuracy and improve breeding decisions.

Haddon Rig continues to invest heavily in our artificial-breeding programs, AI-ing 1600 ewes and embry-transferring eggs from 15 of our top Special Stud ewes in 2018. Our classing and performance measurements are proving that the money we spend on our artificial program is producing the top 10% of our Stud. In 2018, we DNA tested our entire Poll flock and 2018 lambs for full pedigree data and Poll genes. Investing in DNA testing has enabled Haddon Rig to collect and interpret data quickly and more accurately than ever before. DNA profiling will enable Haddon Rig clients to:

2019 Scanning

In April 2019, we scanned the Haddon Rig Stud ewes, and were extremely happy with the performance after being joined in an extremely hot, dry, dusty Summer. Only 6% of mixed-aged Stud ewes scanned dry, 41% bearing single lambs and a massive 53% carrying twins, although still below our normal performance.  

Results from feed-lotting wethers at 10 months old. 

In our latest trial using the new automated feedlot, we are improving our ability to turn off wethers at 10 months old. we have inducted approximately 1100 merino wether lambs (2018 drop) into the feedlot at 10 months old at around 33-39kg (live-weight). after being on feed for 26 days (3.5 weeks), their average daily gain was between 270-346 grams/head/day. in that time, only 10 lambs (or 1%) were pulled out and identified as shy feeders. feeding of these lambs will continue aiming to turn off a 55kg live-weight lamb. 

The table below summarises our results: in short, feed consumption stays relatively constant at around 1.5kg/head/day with an average daily gain of 310 grams/head/day. we are extremely happy with our average feed conversion rate of 4.84 (i.e. to put on 1kg of live weight, each sheep consumer 4.84kg feed). this is ahead of many “meat breed” sheep and terminal sire cross-bred lambs.

We made $41.27 net profit on average for lambs inducted at 10 months old, fed for 55 days and sold at 50kgs. this equates to a 41% return on investment, assuming the lamb was valued at $100 per head upon induction. meat prices have since increased, and grain prices have eased slightly which improves the return even further.