Tuesday, December 20, 2011


At last all the lamb marking is finished on all three islands.  The very bad weather that hit George Island during lambing gave us a poor result.  It was not the worst we have had there but it was pretty bad.  Following on from last year when George Island had its best lambing ever it was a bit of a bitter pill.  This pulled our lambing percentage down from 92% on the put out to 86% across the whole group.
All the hogs are now shorn.  The George Island Dohnes clipped fantastically with a great wool weight which only emphasised the lack of wool on the Speedwell Samms.  It has always been our intention not to swap one income for another but to achieve the best from both.  After several years we don't think we are going to obtain this using Samms on Speedwell.  They have achieved one of the objectives that we set out to achieve, the hogs and shearlings are much bigger framed.  This has been of set by a fleece weight that seems to be getting increasingly lighter.  The whole issue of changing breeds has become increasingly more difficult.  When we changed breed the agricultural department also imported Samm and Dohne genetics.  They spent large amounts of money to help facilitate people changing to dual purpose animals only to sell off all the Dohnes last year to a private buyer and this year have given the Samms away to the farm that was running them on behalf of the department of agriculture.  In my opinion they wasted a great deal of money and achieved nothing.  We now find ourselves in a position of not being able to obtain genetics within the islands.  Christopher has spent hours on the Internet contacting Dohne producers in Australia because they are doing really quite well on George Island but it is impossible to find anything with a decent fat cover.  This is because animals are being breed for the meat market and consumers no longer want lamb with any amount of fat.   This is the major problem we are facing on George Island.  When conditions are harsh the animals have virtually no fat cover to sustain them.  This also means the lambs are born with very little fat cover making them even more susceptible to hypothermia when they are born in harsh conditions.  So decisions have had to be made.  On Speedwell we are going to change back to Polwarth.  The polwarth carries a good fleece weight with a good micron and has a decent fat cover.  The frame isn't as big as the SAMM but because we have plenty of ewe lambs to choose from for replacement we feel that with careful selection we will still be able to achieve a decent animal for the abattoir.  On George we are not really ready to give up on the Dohne but unless we can find genetics that can provide the fat cover  we need it looks like we may be pushed to change George back to Polwarth too.  The decisions are difficult, for example have we given the new breeds long enough to really show their potential or are we having a knee jerk reaction.  At the end of the day I am really not happy with the way the wool side is going on Speedwell so I am happy with that decision. I think with George we will at least continue with the Dohne for another season and keep on looking for suitable genetics.
The boys have worked their arses of this week.  They have been up at 5am and not back in the house until 7pm.  They have slaughtered, butchered, bagged and delivered to the plane 120 lambs.  between us we have marked 600 plus lambs and shore 300 plus sheep in the last 10 days.  Shaun decided to shear all the lambs that were being slaughtered if he could keep and sell the lamb wool himself.  In all he has 80 plus kilos.
Today saw the end of the work for the next 10 days.  The last 20 lambs were delivered to the plane along with me.  I t would appear that I was vanquished from the boat today.  It was intended that we would all come across on the boat and come into Stanley.  At about 10am a breeze started coming up from the north and before I knew what was happening FIGAS had been contacted and I was flying to town with the lamb.  So here we all are now in Stanley.  The grass in the yard is up around our knees, I still have lots of Xmas shopping to do but best of all Tiphanie starts on her way back home tomorrow.  Happy days.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you have earned a rest and the Christmas holiday will be enjoyed by all.

    It is interesting to hear your efforts to find the perfect breed of sheep for your environment and the target market for your sales.

    I have mentioned it before,. . .I like Icelandic sheep. It seems this breed has many features to recommend it to the Falklands. Here is an interesting article about them http://www.isbona.com/icelandicsheep.html
    They are Winter hardy and have multiple births.
    They can also be milked for cheese production or they can successfully feed several lambs. They are very vigorous and in Iceland they are largely pasture fed since that country like the Falklands does not produce grains. If such sheep are not now on the Falklands, it would make an interesting experiment to try them.

    All the best in the new year.