Dorper and White Dorper Annual 2015-07-24

Prime Dorper Lamb Supplement QCL July 1 2015


Lloyd Dunlop Lamb Consultant, Goondiwindi.

Dear Clients,

Did you see the latest National Dorper Annual?

I thought it was very good and informative.

Some points I saw included

  • An organised Export through Elders and Scott Thrift to China. Stud protocols are probably going to exclude anyone north of the Bluetongue line which covers most of Qld and down to Camden in NSW.  See Cattle Central for the latest Live cattle protocols.
  • My old acquaintance, Grant Bredhauer is now at “Packsaddle” in NW NSW on 140,000 ha doing 150%with 6000 Dorpers. Interestingly he is doing seasonal non joining leaving rams out July Aug and Sept to avoid lamb losses in summer.  His terminal weights for lambs are very high at 50kg and 24kg DW. (Unstated is the number of hoggets with this system.)
  • The Traill’s of “Tuwinga” Spring Ridge NSW are running multiple mobs of ewes on a rotational joining regime of 8 month cycles. This means they are always lambing, marking, weaning scanning weighing and selling.  A very labour intensive system aimed at supplying 18 – 20kg DW carcass to TFI Tamworth.  Martine Traill correctly says “It’s rarely the animal that lets the management down, it’s the management that lets the animal down!”
  • Dr Megan Gooding’s article on Dorper research (WA Wickepin and Murdock Univ) was very revealing. She dispels the use of “Condition scoring” which we have brought from Merino research into the Meat sheep world rather using live weight as a better indicator for joining. Wow! She says
    • Dorper ewes should be joined at 60kg or more. (That means she should be over 12 months of age for Qld ewes.)
    • Gaining weight 2 weeks prior to joining and during joining for the first week.
    • Feed Dorpers 200g/h/d Lupins 2 weeks prejoining
    • This produces lamb birth weights of 4 – 6 kg which is light compared to merinos of 5 – 8 kg. (I have never heard of dystocia problems with meat sheep.  Do you have any stories of difficult lamb births with your sheep?
    • Maintain ewe weight if possible during pregnancy if possible.
    • Producers should use ewe liveweight change instead of condition scoring to assess the progress of the Dorper ewe.
  • The Wilsons at Jilikan Downs Kulin WA are aiming for all year round supply of lambs from a serial mating program (Pers. Comm.) and hope for 200% markings pa from 1200 ewes. (Keith in a personal communication affirms he has done it using a feeding system close to mine.)
  • Ben Barber “Walla Walla” Walbundrie NSW is aiming too for all year turnoff of lambs using a 2 mob joined 8 monthly producing 3 lambings per year strategy on 1800 with White Dorper ewes. This too is an intensive labour program suited to local butcher sales.  He claims 2kg/h/week from lambs on lucerne, He is using RFID tags and lifted weaning rates from 150% to 180% using Regulin injection.  He supplements ewes on grain and lambs on lucerne.  Quite the reverse of my recommendations. (When your nutrition is up to this you too can use either Regulin or Fecundin for extra lambs.  This should take our potential conception rates over 400% with two joinings per year.  Who will be the first to do this?  Make sure you have your nutrition sorted first.)
  • Old’s at “Belvedere Bourke have 130,000ha 20,000 ewes doing 25,000 lambs pa either all year round on poorer country or joining every 8 months in better soil country. Lambs are finished on Dad’s place at Balranald selling up to $130 off pastures.  (Keeping cost centres is an issue for those changing properties with lambs within the business.  Otherwise you cannot do the financial diagnostics on failure.  A poor diagnosis means a poor solution. Lambs have a book value on transfer and that needs to reflect Market prices.)
  • Anyone wanting to do Community aid work in the Islands could do well to duplicate the Samoan story with your sheep in places like New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu etc. Dorpers are already in Norfolk Island.  They need help and I have the technology to help them survive the high rainfall wormy environment they might face.
  • The Bulls at “Lauriston” at Deniliquin NSW are using a 2 lambing a year program but are not joining again until after marking time of the first lambing. Result, just short of 150% from 1300 – 2500 ewes on insufficient nutrition.
  • Jamie Mc Taggart runs 10,000 ewes at Flinders Ranges Port Augusta SA on Saltbush. They join all year round with 2% rams marking up to 180% but really doing about 110% annually.  He has a hogget problem and a predator problem with this system. He began with Damaras and now repents the move saying they have smaller eye muscles.  (This point was repeated by Andrew Jackson TFI Tamworth, at our recent Client Day at Telgazlie.  Keeping them at 25% in the MM or less in the White MM has been a good move for us.  Not said is the higher fecundity, mothering ability, cleanskin properties, better feet and pastoral application of Damaras and Van Rooys cf other breeds.)
  • The Bussell’s of Victoria run a 1500 ewe 400ha model operation with a wholesale business. They run their own stud to produce needed rams; have only a 4 week joining lambing on 7 month cycles but are still only doing 150% markings.  They have a feedlot in which lambs do only 300g/h/d.  (These are ordinary figures.  Dorpers have been known to gain over 500g/h/d on the Keenan Soda Grain ration at Goondiwindi.)
  • Even Justin & Lorroi Kirkby Stud Amurula Gravesend NSW are using an 8 month joining cycle, saying ewes cycle as soon as 4 weeks after lambing but later in drought (read “dry spring joinings”, a breed trait) “without the right nutrition” she said. ET is still expensive and on the decline with Dorpers everywhere and only justifiable for studs with costs per lamb from $150 – $700.
  • Brendon Duncan at Wentworth is noteworthy for his use of 2 Holland Stocklifts one of which he moves around his 12 yards on his 25000 ha “Glen Esk Station. He too is averaging about 130 – 160% lamb markings.  Seasonal non mating is used joining rams January and pulling them out at marking in August.  This gives two lots of lambs July and Novemeber and gets most maidens pregnant he said.  The Stocklifts are used for marking, tagging, blood testing rams, vaccination, and drenching.  (No mention of predators is made throughout this Journal)
  • The boxed lamb, with a paddock to plate marketing concept, is used by the Brown family at “Baillee Farm” Toodyay WA. Flock performances are not mentioned but they have an all year round supply problem too.
  • The only person to use a strict 6 month lambing regime on only 500 Dorper ewes is Steve Gentle of “Worthingtons” Illabo NSW. He lambs Jan /Feb and again in July /Aug.  He sells suckers at 16 – 20 weeks at 40 – 45kg LW.  He deals with merino and Dorper lambs through his feedlot with the biggest margins from Merinos.
  • Three Mackerell’s butcher shops at Euchuca, Kyabram and Tongala Victoria are supported by a flock of 600 ewes run by Dad, in an effort to value add and control consistency of quality and continuity of supply. They are joined all year round.  Supplementary feeding is used to finish lambs.  No Lambmarking data is given.
  • Finally the Curtis’s of Millmerran are reported as a user of Lambplan data. They run 1000 stud and 2000 commercial ewes for the successful Belleview Doper and White Dorper Studs. No Lambmarking data is given.


Some issues of significance emerge from the Dorper Paper.

  • The mention of a plateau of lamb growth either in Feb or at weights above 35 kg LW, is not outlined except by a few writers. This is a problem with Dorpers run on either native pastures or poorer nutrition due to their low to medium mature weights.  It is a problem for Queenslanders also and gained a full session of questions at the recent Artunga Prime Lamb Field day with Geoff Duddy at Inglewood in June.  Hence the high incidence of Feedlotting lambs in this Compendium of stories.  We can solve this problem partially by breeding from Composite Meat Breeds with high mature weights with accompanying high growth rates.  But in a summer pasture grass area like Qld we too need good nutrition to be able to sell lambs off farm without feedlotting.  Not easy.  Hence my request for all clients with farming options to use them to grow forages for ewes and lambs.  Only then consider Feedlotting as it is the most expensive way to finish lambs.
  • 8 Month joining cycles are popular. This seems to be strongly influenced by the Kirkbys whose opinions dominate the Dorper Facebook discussions.  Join up and find out.  It also seems to solve issues for small Paddock to Plate operations, but often faces some “slippage in joining times” due to “dry seasons”.  Interestingly, none except possibly the Wilson’s in WA, who feed, seem to break the 200% barrier.
  • Poor feeding regimes delivering only 150% markings. Few correspondents feed ewes at joining even though it is advocated by Lorroi Kirkby and Dr Gooding.  You can make money without spending money and feeding ewes is where it starts to maximise conception rates.  Only then and particularly in spring joinings can 200% markings become possible.
  • There are lots of 2 and 3 mob joining systems to even out supply from small flocks in paddock to plate operations.
  • Under performing systems. Many of the pastoral producers are understandably using least effort systems due to scale and labour constraints.  Hopefully we can reverse that and make them not only the lowest cost lamb producers but bring precision to their operations and lift markings closer to 180% with a Walk over weigher when developed.  This will demand RFID tags.  I still have one in the wings waiting for an investor.  $25k should see a prototype operating.
  • RFID tags are emerging.
  • Stocklift is a great idea for labour saving at marking and drenching. I think all large operations above 3000 ewes should have one.




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