The Australian Poll Dorset Association

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Breeding the lambs that everyone wants

Tom and Judy Pattinson’s Poll Dorset-sired lambs get the attention of every buyer in the market.Supplied Pattison APDAS1

Farming at Marrar, 40 kilometres north of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, the Pattinsons run 1200 first-cross ewes joined to Poll Dorset rams across 800 hectares. They also grow canola, milling oats, barley, wheat and lupins.

They join their Merino-Border Leicester ewes to rams with length, good fat cover and soundness bought exclusively from the nearby Armdale Poll Dorset stud.

Lambs are dropped onto lucerne pastures before being weaned in June, when they are then finished on Wedgetail grazing wheat.

About 70 percent of Tom and Judy’s lambs are sold through the sucker market, with the remainder grown out for the export market. Early drafts are sold in late-July and August to try and capture the premium sucker price.

“I believe only Poll Dorsets have the quick maturity for lambs to be sold off as early suckers,” Tom says. “This year we have already sold our first draft of 320 suckers at an average of $157 a head.”

“An added bonus is the clean, white skin. At different times sucker skins have reached anywhere up to $15-$20, adding to our bottom line.”

Tom is also an avid fan of the versatility Poll Dorsets provide.

“If selling a store lamb, a trade lamb or a heavy export lamb, the Poll Dorset will attract a premium in any saleyards,” he says. “Over the years I have found the constant improvement within the Poll Dorset breed more than keeps pace with any changing market signals.”

Tom and Judy target a lambing percentage of between 130 and 140 and have had great success achieving these figures with Poll Dorsets as terminal sires.

“Buyers – whether chasing culls or export lambs – all prefer the Poll Dorset first-cross, which I think comes down to the lamb’s shape, fat content, yield and clean, white skin.”