Running 1500 crossbreed ewes and an average of 2500 lambs they produce each year by themselves, prompted Kevin to make the way they handled them, more efficient.To that end he installed an overhead rail and movable shearing machine above their sheep race, so he can more easily crutch the flock; it works so well he reckons every sheep farmer should have a similar set up. But he is clearly disappointed the idea has not caught on. He said the rail ran the length of the race and enabled him to stay standing and crutch between 2000 and 3000 sheep a year by himself. It is paired with a Pro Weigh sheep handler which lifts the whole race so all the sheep in the race have their feet off the ground and are therefore disinclined to struggle. It is particularly useful for inoculations and Kevin said its calming effect, meant he could inoculate about 20 a minute.
The Mitchells were innovators too, in their cropping operation, when in 1962 they expanded the grain and fertiliser boxes on their combine and augured seed and super. in from truck mounted bulk bins. But Kevin said it took the best part of a decade for that idea to take off elsewhere.
Kevin's wife Pat is an active participant in the farm's operations too; he said if your wife could work amicably in the sheep yards with you, your relationship was probably faring well. Pat is secretary of the 15 farmer members Goorambat lamb group and is also a qualified wool classer. But Kevin said their wool was "terrible" because producing prime lambs was their major money earner. They buy Prime Line rams from a prominent Holbrook breeder, to maximise profits from lambs.
To encourage the best pasture species and maximise their production, the Mitchells laid 8km of poly pipe to about 50 paddocks. That enables them to fine tune grazing of each paddock which might mean just a few hours access for a big mob.
The Mitchells have also been active in the $50,000 project to paint massive soldier and military nurse pictures, or silo art, on the Devenish silos. He said 15,000 people had signed the visitors' book (they are now halfway through the second) since the massive artworks were completed in April.
Plans are underway for post and rail fencing and seating near the silos and Kevin said he would love to see a coffee shop start to better serve silo art visitors.