Saturday, March 31, 2012

Time to spill the beans.

With the last of the wool off to Stanley and the last of the animals off to the abattoir next week this season is as good as over.  Daylight isn't coming in until 7am and although we are still having mild weather it is getting colder.  Its time to reflect on the season which Christopher and I both agree is probably the hardest season in 20 odd years that we have both done.  It should have been the easiest one ever as we had an employee for the first time ever.  Plans were made before the season started.  Shaun wanted himself and Christopher to shear all the sheep instead of getting contractors in.  Mainly because this allowed him to boost his own wage by coming off wage and going onto contractors rates.  This still saved us money as obviously Christopher was to shear for the love of it and we would not have to pay overheads to Shaun.  It all looked good.  Tanya was to be the rousie and I would roll, class and store the wool.  What could go wrong.  Well Shaun and Tanya also had another plan that we didn't know about.  They had decided to start a family.  November saw us shearing the hogs on George Island which are the only sheep we shear before Christmas.  Christmas eve we were told the very exciting news that we were going to be grandparents.  That's were the rest of the plan went completely out the window.  Over the Christmas break we had the fire on George that took several weeks to get under control and which saw Christopher and Shaun absolutely worn out from firefighting.  With Tanya only been 9 weeks pregnant at that time this prevented her from wool carrying as both Tanya and Shaun were desperate that she should get to the relatively safe 12 weeks when the chances of a miscarriage become less likely.  So that is how we ended up with me being rousie, rolling the wool, classing the wool and stowing it.  Over the weeks one of the most popular songs on the radio seemed to be "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  There were points when I thought it would kill me but we made it.  Luckily for the last shearing we were able to get in a shearer and a rousie so that made life easier.  Today Tanya is 5 months pregnant and we are very excited to be expecting our first grandchild on about the 18th August and it is going to be a little girl.  Tanya is keeping well the house in Stanley is starting to fill up with baby things and they are both very excited as are we.
The George Island fire taken out of the window of the Islander aircraft on New Years Eve.

The father to be shearing one of our largest rams on Barren Island (January 2013)

The mum to be practising with Connor Joe her cousins baby.


  1. Hi' I am a sheep breeder in the northeast of Brazi, my farm is near NATAL city. I loved your blog. Let's keep in touch! I would like to understand your breeding system, wich I think it is completeley different from mine. All the best! Gustavo Rocha

    1. Hi Gustavo,
      Glad you like the blog. It is great to hear from another sheep breeder. I would love to hear about the differences in our systems. Please continue to comment.

    2. Hi Lindsey, our corporate website is We started 10 years ago.

      we have annual rainfall of 1.200mm average and our temperature ranges from 22c to 32c, it's very hot and tropical. Our pasture is artificial, brachiaria pasture. The farm has a total area of 1.150 hectares but we have 600 hectares of pasture, the remaining area is natural reserve (according to the law we can't grow or breed) and we have around 40 hectares of irrigation for hay production. We use a rotational pasture system called 'voisin', we have 18 little farms inside the big farm and each of these little farms have their own paddocks and we use meshes to separate the paddocks. Each paddock has around 1 to 2 hectares and each little farm has atound 20 to 30 paddocks.

      we started crossing dorper rams with local haired sheep (Santa Inês), now we have a livestock of around 7.000 sheep and we expect to reach 10.000 within the nex 10 years. Most of the sheeo now are 3/4 dorper blooded and we want to keep 100% dorper blood in the sheeps.

      Our management of the flock is completely different to yours. We mate the ewes two months after they deliver their lambs, we use natural mating, we put 1 ram to each 30 ewes during 40 days. After that we use ultrassound scanning to detect if they got pregnant. We reach around 80% of fertilised ewes in this first trial, then if they don't get feritlised, we take them to another little farm where another natural mating will start, then if they don't get fetilised, we discard this ewe. Here you can see that all our flock is 95% getting a fertilisation followed by another. Every ewe will give us 1,5 lamb per year.

      When the ewes deliver their lambs, we keep them locked with their babies for a week and after that the ewe go to the paddocks while the lambs keep confined with hay and ration up to 90 days when we take them to the abbatoir. They reach around 27kg each within 90-100 days. The ewes milk the twice a day and they sleep separated ewes, from lambs.

      We use a lot of labour work, we don't have a lambing season. Our survival rates are very good, we now have a death rate of ewes and lambsof under 5%. This high production pays the labour (which is still abundant in Brazil but it's getting expensive).

      During the dry season all the sheep are kept locked and we serve them hay and some ration (it's a high cost) but that takes around 2 to 3 months each year.

      We slaughter and benefit our lambs, we do ourselves the cuts and deliver directly to the local market. Our products are very well regarded and we compete with the very bad product that comes from uruguay. It's easy to beat them.

      Well, I hope i could detail our system and I am very happy to exchange informations with you. I've been reading about the falklands and wonder to visit the islands some day. I admire very much yout toughness to live in such an isolated and beautiful place.

      I hope to hearing from you, and if you want, please add me on facebook or skype and we can start exchanging techniques.

      All the best,

      Gustavo Andrade Rocha
      skype: gustavoandraderocha
      +55 84 9192 0203

    3. Just a small correction:

      I wrote "now we have a livestock of around 7.000 sheep and we expect to reach 10.000 within the nex 10 years"

      The correct is: "We expect to reach 10.000 ewes within the next 2 years"

    4. This is very interesting. Our farming systems are poles apart. I can see your farming is very intensive where as ours is extensive. There are farms here that practise rotational grazing but nothing as intensive as yours. We would like to do some rotational grazing ourselves but until water issues are addressed this is not possible. My e-mail is We do have skype but we do not have it plugged in that often.

  2. You certainly never seem to have a dull moment or challenge.
    A baby in the family will be a source of great delight. Congratulations to the new mom and pop, to be.

    1. Thanks Philip,
      We are all looking forward to having a baby in the family.

  3. You have a nice blog. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you. I am glad you are enjoying it.