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Fast growth genetics deliver sucker success

When it comes to rams, Poll Dorsets meet the desired criteria of lamb producer Hamish McKindlay, Glenthompson, Vic.

Hamish buys mixed age Merino ewes and joins them to Poll Dorset terminal sires to produce first-cross lambs which are sold as suckers to the store market through AuctionsPlus.

Hamish McKindlay (right), Glenthompson, Vic, with his two boys Archie and Spencer.

Hamish McKindlay (right), Glenthompson, Vic, with his two boys Archie and Spencer.

Along with partner Belinda Cant, and his two boys Archie, 4, and Spencer, 2, Hamish leases 800 hectares on two properties south of Glenthompson in Victoria’s southwest.

As well as producing first-cross lambs for the store market, he also buys store Merino lambs to turnover and crops 520 hectares, growing canola, wheat, oats and triticale.

When the need arises, Hamish also buys scanned replacement ewes to bolster the breeding flock.

The fast-growth and early maturity characteristics of his Poll Dorset sires has enabled Hamish to achieve great lamb sale results.

He sells about 1300 first-cross lambs a year – targeting a selling liveweight of 24 kilograms – with most sold in September and October. He also sells 1000 to 1300 store lambs a year.

One of their best sale results was a large run of 700 first-cross lambs selling for $120 a head.

“I generally like to wean the first-cross lambs from their mums straight onto the truck,” he said.

“For the past four years we’ve been selling sucker lambs at about 24kg lw.

“We want lambs to look nice, fresh and rounded when we sell, the Poll Dorsets always produce a great quality sucker lamb regardless of seasonal conditions.

“For the past three years we’ve averaged $100 to $110 a head for that 24kg lw lamb.”

Rams are bought from Roger and Dianne Trewick’s Pepperton Poll Dorset stud near Elmore, Vic, with a large frame the main characteristic Hamish looks for when selecting.

“I’m really just after something that has a good frame, something with good length, good muscle and the indexing is always handy to look at,” he said.

As far as breeding targets are concerned, Hamish works on a lambing percentage of 100 to 120 per cent.

There is only one lambing a year, during the late autumn to early winter period, with ewes lambing onto phalaris, clover and ryegrass pastures.

“Over the summer period we do some supplementary feeding but generally not during the lambing period,” Hamish said.