DOHNES are the breed of choice for the Lockyer family at Treehaven Farm, Bolgart.
Betty and Russell Lockyer first bought the property in 2012, with daughter Stephanie and her husband Gavin supporting them on the farm.
The family property is 1800 hectares and runs a flock of 1500 Dohne breeding ewes and 500 ewe hoggets.
Up to 1000 ewes are mated to Dohne rams with the remaining 500 being mated to Black Suffolks.
Despite only purchasing the farm eight years ago, Stephanie said they were no strangers to sheep as her father had managed sheep stations.
Stephanie and Gavin are enthusiastic about acquiring knowledge and information to educate themselves about sheep, with their main role being to learn and assist the family on the farm where necessary.
When they first put sheep onto the property, the Lockyers were buying other people's culls of various breeds.
Then in 2013 Russell and Betty met Jeremy Genders, Noorla Dohnes, Williams, at a Dohne field day and started purchasing rams from him.
Jeremy classes and culls their flock each year and has been teaching Stephanie.
"I have been learning, but you should never cull your own sheep," she said.
The ewe lambs are culled at seven months of age which gives them the option to sell them as lambs.
Stephanie said they liked the Dohne breed because they were good mothers and an all-purpose animal.
"They're very easy, fertile, quiet sheep that have good wool and are really good mums," she said.
The benefit of the Dohnes being good mums has meant they have had a high survival rate of twins.
"We've averaged more than 100 per cent survival rate for all our lambs," she said.
"If you treat the ewe right you'll get a really good lamb."
Selecting the Dohne breed has meant it has only taken the Lockyers three years to develop the clean-bodied animal they wanted.
This is important for the family because they are a part of the Nativia organisation that doesn't mules sheep and members are guaranteed a 15pc wool premium.
"It has been with Jeremy's help and using his genetics, that we managed to produce a lamb that is clean and doesn't have to be mulesed," she said.
They produce Black Suffolk crossbreds because Stephanie said they grow quicker, meaning they could sell them quicker.
A cropping program supports the enterprise and includes 950ha of wheat, canola, barley and oats, as well as 400ha of pasture varieties.
"Realistically, as much as I would like to only have the sheep, we need the cropping to be able to run the sheep," Stephanie said.
Joining is in January, with the rams being put in with the ewes for six to seven weeks, for lambing in April-May.
Stephanie said 49 days was the recommended time, "so we keep the rams in for 52-53 days".
She said they pregnancy scanned all their ewes and separated them into mobs with twins and singles.
To further increase their lamb survival rates Stephanie is attending a course on lamb survival and is trialling different mob sizes to see what's ideal.
"We have a mob of 50 ewes with twins, a mob of 100, a mob of 150 and a mob of 200 to see which group has better survival rates of those twins," she said.
Stephanie is also undertaking a Lifetime Ewe management course.
"It's important to do these courses to keep up with the latest practices and to keep learning," she said.
When selling their lambs they are flexible with the market.
Having their own truck and crate means they can transport sheep at any time.
Usually the Black Suffolks are sold through the Muchea Livestock Centre saleyards, with the occasional sale direct to abattoirs.