Nine of our number visited the Toland poll Merino stud north west of Violet Town on May 1 and discovered that the Tolands keep some of their ewes producing lambs to an age of nine of 10, at a time when many sheep men cull their breeders when they are just five or six.
The Toland family, who run the enterprise, thanks to individual 15 digit electronic ear tags on every sheep, know how each sheep is bred and can tweak breeding and feeding strategies to maximise wool production and quality. The aim is to produce 18 micron wool.
Pregnant ewes were due to be scanned about two weeks after our visit with an important objective being able to draft ewes carrying twins into a separate mob so they could be fed more than those carrying singles. Between 40 and 50 per cent of mature ewes produce twins. That is about 750 ewes from the flock of about 1700.
But Phil Toland told the group, that with nutrition somewhat restricted by the lack so far of a real autumn break, he expected lambs to number about 2000 this year.
Generally sales of wool, rams and surplus sheep, each produce income of about $200,000 a year. About 200 rams average $1000 each while the average price of wool from each sheep is between $70 and $80. Surplus ewes sell for about $100 each.
The main part of the farm covers 1300 acres of largely flat heavy carrying country while there is 700 acres of hillier and lighter ironstone country, several kilometres to the north west where the Tolands run all of their young sheep.
Our June speaker will be member Sue Campbell, who with husband Sandy, for 34 years focussed on turning what was known as 'the rabbit farm' near Byawatha carrying half a sheep to the acre, into a much more viable one carrying about six sheep to the acre. They won the battle in 2003 when the 700 acre property, Cooloongatta, was declared rabbit free. Sue will talk about the battle and related issues on Tuesday June 5 at 10am.