New owners: Liza Barlow and Tony Slade at their Condobolin property with the Highveld flock.

New owners: Liza Barlow and Tony Slade at their Condobolin property with the Highveld flock.

New Highveld Stud owners look to data-driven future for their Australian White sheep

New Highveld Stud owners look to data-driven future for their Australian White sheep

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The new owners of respected Australian White sheep breeding operation Highveld Stud are excited about the operation's future with major plans for the growth of the business and the Australian White breed, as well as the Australian sheep industry in general.

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This is sponsored content for Highveld Stud.

Highveld Australian Whites - one of the foundation Australian White sheep flocks in operation - has moved to the Central West of NSW Condobolin and District region.

Formal development of the Australian White breed started in 1999 with Highveld founder Alan Baron. Mr Baron, along with other Australian White founding breed members, stabilised the breed to what it is today.

The Australian White sheep breed features a unique gene mix that ensures high reproduction rates, high adaptability to all conditions, high yielding carcass percentages and meat quality suitability. They are ideal as a self-replacement flock breed or as a terminal sire over other breeds.

The sale of Highveld to Condobolin-based sheep producers Liza Barlow and Tony Slade followed a meeting between the couple and Mr Baron at a Highveld auction last year.

Liza's father David Barlow, the long-time Bathurst grazier, sheep producer and Highveld Australian White enthusiast who has been a regular at Highveld's auctions, was there with his daughter and Mr Slade, and introduced them to Mr Baron.

Mr Barlow has followed the breed closely and selects rams that are high in growth, strong carcass traits and the ability to do well in tough seasonal conditions. He had been a passionate fan of Mr Baron's dedication and presentation of the Highveld sheep because they do so well in the paddock and are true to type.

At the time, Mr Baron revealed he was returning to South Africa to live and that he would be selling the stud.

"It opened up a dialogue that he was keen for the stud to stay in Australia and remain as a whole and he wanted to offer a considerable period of mentoring to the new owners," said Mr Slade.

"When he learned that I was stepping back from my cattle operation in the Western Division and Condobolin District, Alan realised that it would be a good decision to move the operation to us."

Fast forward, and Ms Barlow and Mr Slade are now the new owners of Highveld and are excited about the operation's future with major plans for the growth of the business and the Australian White breed, as well as the Australian sheep industry in general.

The stud arrived at their Condobolin property in May last year and has settled in well to the area that the couple believe will show off the breed's valuable traits - including being able to perform and do well in the toughest of pastoral conditions.

"They are bred for these conditions; they were bred to be a good meat sheep, fast growing, well balanced, carcass trait sheep that could survive in these conditions," Ms Barlow said.

Ms Barlow said their plan for Highveld Sheep Stud was to run a stud flock and build on their commercial flock.

"This will give us the time to really understand the potential of the Australian White sheep. The emphasis will not be on the ram market at first. Initially we will be focusing on our ewes," she said.

"Our aim is to produce quality females for breeding for commercial buyers or for people who want to cherry pick them for their stud."

High in the couple's priorities is the development of a data management system that will provide buyers with invaluable genetic information about each Highveld animal.

They are in the process of DNA testing and electronically tagging all of their sheep and are working with a data management company to set up their system.

"We want to create a massive data system that allows us to track information like breeding, twinning history, MyoMax results, with the vision of being able to collate all of that and then when we have sales in the future being able to add EBVs to each of our sheep," said Ms Barlow.

"This has been something that's been around for a long time in the cattle industry and we want to bring it to the sheep industry, to allow buyers to know exactly what they are buying. We'll be able to say, 'This is the animal and here are the genetic traits of the article in front of you'.

From left: David and Liza Barlow, Alan Baron and John Setree from Nutrien Stud Stock.

From left: David and Liza Barlow, Alan Baron and John Setree from Nutrien Stud Stock.

"In the future, buyers will be able to see the parentage and will be able to correlate those genetics back to the original stud. We will DNA test new lambs and we will know who the father is."

Mr Slade said that with the high prices Australian White rams are increasingly attracting, buyers will be demanding more detailed information about the animals' background in order to more accurately predict their performance.

"If you are going to bid up to $12000 you want to know that he's the animal on the board. With this sort of data available, as soon as he walks onto the scan [at the sale] his information will be there at your fingertips."

The achievements of the new Highveld owners have already had the tick of approval from Mr Baron.

"Alan came in January and he was very impressed with how they were going. He said every single one of the maiden ewes was in show condition." said Ms Barlow. "We are very proud of them."

Highveld White rams are now available through AuctionsPlus or by contacting Brendan Mansbridge of Kevin Miller Whitty Lennon on 0428 845 041. For more information you can also head to the Highveld Facebook page or contact Liza Barlow on 0403 571 624.

This is sponsored content for Highveld Stud.

The story New Highveld Stud owners look to data-driven future for their Australian White sheep first appeared on The Land.

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