Always looking for growth at Bodallin

Always looking for growth


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Merinos are a passion project for South Bodallin producer Linda Rose.

Merinos are a passion project for South Bodallin producer Linda Rose.

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Merinos are a passion project for South Bodallin producer Linda Rose.

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MERINOS are a passion project for South Bodallin producer Linda Rose.

Linda, who farms with her husband Steve and father-in-law Peter, didn't grow up on a farm but has been involved with the sheep since she first stepped foot on the place.

"I've always been involved with the sheep, now the kids have got a bit older and I've got time to be more hands on, Steve and I decided to take the opportunity to change our approach to the whole program," Linda said.

"More to the point, we educated ourselves, we got involved in groups like Lifetime Ewe Management and we asked a lot of questions.

"By doing that, we were able to see where we could improve in our business."

Merinos have been on the Rose family property for the three generations and these days two thirds of the property is dedicated to pastures for the flock which currently stands at 1600 breeding ewes.

"They did an amazing job, Peter has given us a platform to build from and it's just gone from strength to strength," Linda said.

She isn't one to sit back and just enjoy strong sheep and wool prices.

Linda is in it for the rewards which come with putting in the hard work to see beautiful fleeces, healthy lambs and strong returns from her Merinos.

"I'm constantly looking for the next thing to improve on," Linda said.

Improving lambing percentages has been a recent focus of the breeding program.

Improving lambing percentages has been a recent focus of the breeding program.

When they overhauled the management of their flock, improving lambing percentage was a big box Linda wanted to tick.

"The Merino we found, while it's an amazing animal, it isn't always a great mother so for us to improve our lamb percentages was huge and we're achieving better rates every year," she said.

Some of the management changes the Rose family have brought in to improve lambing include moving the time of lambing to better manage predator risk, adopting pregnancy scanning and separate feeding regimes for multiple and single bearing ewe mobs and ensuring they always have plenty of feed on hand.

"Rarely now does a ewe go under condition score two," Linda said.

"We always have feed on hand and if we supplement them, that's when we see it really coming through in the quality of the lambs and it's really exciting.

"The results so far have been positive and they continue to get better.

"Wool cut was another area we wanted to improve because I don't think we were getting the potential out of the flock.

"So by changing the stud we buy from and by changing the way we look after them, we were able to improve our wool cut.

"Just managing our sheep really, was what we wanted to do better."

Linda said improving was a never-ending process.

"We're seeing the results now of changes we've implemented which is great, but once that goal is achieved, another idea on how to improve further pops up," Linda said.

Achieving regular improvement in the wool cliop is a point of pride for Linda Rose.

Achieving regular improvement in the wool cliop is a point of pride for Linda Rose.

"For example when the classers come out they say our wool is getting to where we wanted and ask are we happy with that or should we try to improve somewhere else.

"There's always something to do and it's always changing, so it's very exciting."

When the Rose family first started classing in 2015, the aim was to improve the quality of the wool which sits comfortably around the 21 micron mark for the main flock.

"But when Nathan (King, Elders) came out this year he said we've got up to spec so now let's look at the next thing, which is great because he's got his finger on the pulse and he's bringing a lot of ideas too," she said.

The improvement on the wool side of things began well before 2015 though, with Linda saying the difference between their wool cut between 2010 and 2018 was substantial and it's clear it's something she is very proud of.

"Back in 2010 we were cutting about 4.8kg per head but in the last couple of years we've tipped 7kg," she said.

"I think we can attribute that to the management changes and classing them strictly.

"We take 30pc off at classing which comes back to the idea that every sheep on the property has to contribute.

"The last classing we did in May was that much harder because we were trying to find faults in the sheep which for me is where I want to be.

"I want to be looking at a mob and think it's really hard to choose the culls, but then also look at the cull pen and also think they look good.

"That's where it's rewarding."

Linda said injections of quality bloodlines from the Claypans stud, Corrigin, have also made a positive difference to the wool clip.

"We work with our stud - Steven Bolt (Claypans) has classed our hoggets, taking turns with Nathan," she said.

"Steven knows our sheep and understands where we would like be heading which is invaluable when it comes to purchasing rams at the sale."

Linda said the reason they went to Claypans was because they wanted to get some more grease in their wool.

"It had been getting quite dry," she said.

"The first year we had all Claypans rams in with a mob of ewes it was a completely different looking mob, they all had the greasy tip on them and looked completely different from the mobs that didn't have the Claypans influence.

"Now it's just a case of looking for the next breeding objective we want to focus on which we'll continue to do."

Linda is constantly searching for new ideas to implement on-farm, taking up opportunities to travel on study tours whenever she can.

"I'm looking forward to heading to the Middle East on a tour organised by MLA and DPIRD this year to look at that end of our supply chain," she said.

"I think it's really important to try to understand the whole paddock to plate supply chain, so I'm very interested to see where our sheep go once they leave our shores, if we have an opportunity to make changes at a production level to ensure the continuity of our livestock trade whether it's domestic or international."

Linda also attended a study tour to Victoria which gave her a few ideas to bring back home.

"I'm always interested to see how other farmers run their businesses and I certainly came back from that tour with a head full of ideas," she said.

"I took it as an opportunity to get inspired and see where we could take our business in the future."

The use of electronic identification tags was one thing in particular that Linda was interested in potentially using.

"I think the EID tags have a lot of potential," Linda said.

"That technology would allow us to manage the sheep on a non-emotional level by looking at their actual numbers which I think is important because at the end of the day, it is a business and it's got to be viable.

"We already approach our business that way, for example, our dry ewes don't get a second chance - every sheep on the property has to pull its weight.

"So I think through EID tags I could fine tune that more, but that's a long way down the track."

In the meantime, Linda plans to keep moving forward and trying to continually improve.

"Initially I thought it would be a seven-year plan but I've realised it's more like a 70-year plan," Linda said.

"I want to be proud of the sheep I can produce and each year as something new is achieved, I feel that pride.

"It's like when we shore our cull mob recently and the wool classer was so impressed he said to me, if that was our cull mob, she'd like to see our main mob.

"That kind of thing makes me really happy and proud of what I do."

When asked what excites her most about the future of her Merino business, Linda said ticking off boxes was the main thing.

"Achieving our targets is most exciting," she said.

"We've had goals, we've met them and now we're setting new goals.

"It's so rewarding."

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