Welcome to our Wiltipolls
We recently made a trip up to the Gee Tee Stud at Gunbower and brought back a trailer load of ten Wiltipoll ewes and two rams. They seem none the worse for the trip down south and have all settled in well to their new Gippsland home.
We came back from two weeks holiday in WA to find the grass had gone berserk this December. It had been such a wet spring, we were worried we would not get our hay cut early enough. Fortunately a few sunny days and a very hard working local farmer meant we had it all done just before Christmas. I don’t think we will be short of feed in 2014!
Joining the Foodmap
Today I am going to take the plunge and put our farm on the Southern Gippsland Foodmap:
This will hopefully give us some exposure as very small producers in the niche meat sheep market. We are much better placed this year to keep our young stock on the paddock and sell them off slowly as they come to weight. This means we can offer lean prime lamb from sheep that are less stressed due to reduced handling and that have had minimal exposure to chemicals.
Shots for OJD
This year we decided to take up the fight against OJD (Ovine Johne’s Disease – a serious wasting disease in older sheep). We arranged for our local vet to vaccinate all our young ewe lambs and sheep to be retained on the property. The process has now been made a little safer by the use of a specialized vaccinating gun with a retractable needle – reducing the risk of accidental human injection. Apparently even a scratch with the needle can have nasty consequences. Fortunately all went to plan and our vaccinated sheep were retagged with the required V, leaving a trail of colorful plastic confetti as they left the race.
A Shed for our Sheep
Our ewes with brand new lambs appeared to take readily to our Sheep Shed (a two-car garage from Shelter Station). We successfully drifted ewes and lambs into this protected yard each afternoon and kept losses to a minimum. We were able to provide shelter from the worst of the wild, wet Gippsland winter, prevent fox attacks during the vulnerable first days, and to avoid most mismothering.
I’m not sure where this year went to – obviously not spent updating this web-site. We made a few changes to our breeding program, including selecting ewes that came closer to the Wiltipoll type and ditching a late Autumn Lambing. Instead we took off to Turkey for the IFCN global dairy research conference.
With our tighter Winter/Spring Lambing Season, we ended up with close to 100 ewes having 130 surviving lambs between 1st August and 14th September. I have decided Lambing Boot Camp is good for my health if somewhat exhausting!
The Wedding Party
The Sheep Farmer has been a little slow getting started with Sheep Stories for 2013. We have been somewhat distracted over January & February by an exciting family event, so I have posted this photo in celebration: