We have had an amazingly good year. My sadness is we were not in a position to capitalise on it. We are in the building up numbers phase and just don't have enough numbers to turn the pastures into meat. As our head of the Advisory Panel calls it, the cakes are still in the oven. Every ewe we have has been with a ram. By September 2023, we should have more ewes on the ground than our target of 30/ha (5,500 on the 185ha), and have a few thousand excess that we can start selling as they reach saleable weights.
Before discussing our plans with proximity sensors, the season has continued to be cool. As you can see in the photos below, our ryegrass is still very green and the kikuyu is underneath accelerating in its growth. When we are fully stocked, I would have spread fertiliser in October to crank up that kikuyu to help it thrive through the summer. However, there is no need to. We are very understocked even though we are well over 40 DSE/ha. I will adjust each mob again on the DSE ratings shortly now that we have completed the marking of all the lambs and let you know in the next blog. I don't like DSE's because they are so rubbery, but you the readers and visitors want to know 😁. In the future though, how many kgs of sheep/ha we have sold per 12 months will be the best parameter on how well we are performing.
All of our ewes have eID's in their ears. There is no point yet putting them in the wether's ears because they are gone within the year and mean nothing yet in genetic selection. i.e. We don't cull some wethers and keep others. They all go on a one way holiday. However, we have started keeping some ram lambs intact from our best worm resistant rams and ewes. These have eID's in their ear as we will be culling them on growth, terminal weights and use the data to draft through the auto-drafter.
We have no intention of being a ram producer. This has started out of curiosity to see what they turn out like but is providing us with some beautiful looking rams. Early next year, we will have a few excess of really good ram lambs that others near us have asked to purchase, so we will be offering the excess ones to anyone interested. There are no numbers (ASBV's) on them, but we do know they have come from our best rams and ewes and as you see in the photos, we have some really nice ones coming through. Next year we will have progeny on the ground from a composite ram with -70 PFEC worm resistance. There should be 50-100 excess ram lambs from him.
Anyway, proximity sensors. I have no use for them just yet, but as soon as we get to full ewe numbers next year, they will be extremely important giving us rapid genetic gains in our flocks. For those who don't know how these are used, here is our plan. At lamb marking, we will put a sensor around the neck of each ewe and we will need to start having eID's on the wether lambs. The mob is sent back out to the paddock for two days and we bring them all back into the yards. The proximity sensors are taken off the ewes and the whole mob is immediately sent back to the paddocks.
Back in the office, we will take the data off the proximity sensors. These sensors ping every eID around them periodically (I think that will be adjustable). When we look at the data coming off the proximity sensor, there might be 50 different eID's recorded that were near that ewe, including other adult ewes. However, there will usually be a very clear differentiation in the ping numbers. If the ewe has a single lamb on her, that lamb's eID will have been pinged hundreds of times more than any other eID, so we can tell the software that lamb belongs to that ewe.
And if she has twins or triplets, there will be 2 or 3 lamb's eID's in much higher numbers than any other eID, and so we would link those on the software as belonging to that ewe. And of course it will show us which ewes have lost their lambs.
The data tells us more than which lamb belongs to which ewe and how many lambs she has. It also gives us the ability a few years later to do a cull like the following. Imagine a ewe has developed a fault, perhaps grew snowshoes for hooves. We can assume her progeny might have her genes and we can draft them out years later, and any grand-daughter progeny. It means we can increase our genetic selections rapidly to keep animals that fit into our system and remove the ones who don't, or have genes that might not have expressed yet but we know might and so they are culled, even though they look fantastic at the time.
Time for some photos. Please see the descriptions below each photo to know what I'm showing.