Testimonial - Chris & Kerrie Blowes, Jandon Park, Molong NSW
We were introduced to Scott via our local wool rep from TWG in 2004. Up until this stage we were very much a Traditional Merino Enterprise running approx 1200-1500 merino ewes and their progeny 70-85% lambs weaned (depending on the season) and 1500 merino wethers.
Wool Statistics at that time were 5kg average across the flock of 21-22 micron wool 70% yield 90-100mm length in 12 months. At this time my idea of increasing productivity of my sheep was to increase wool cut, and to do this was by selecting big, necky, wrinkly rams. Yes, those rams did cut 8-10 kg of wool but their progeny were getting worse each generation. By worse I mean tighter, wrinklier, denser wool, fly magnets, full of dermatitis and had every excuse to die.
Being a shearer and a wool classer I could not believe the direction my sheep were heading, backwards in a hurry! No matter how much we spent on rams that downward spiral continued. So we needed help!
2004 saw the arrival of Scott Heeney. Looking back now I realise the initial shock Scott must have had when he saw our sheep. Our goals at that time were simple; to produce an animal that was productive, efficient and easy care.
From day one Scott has had near total control on our selection and culling processes. Initial culling rates of 30-40% across the board were hard to accept but within two years things were starting to turn around. Our lambing rates had increased from 80% to 110% in 2 years, this amazed us; Merino's having more lambs than some cross bred flocks? Never!
Each year the ewe lambs were changing for the better:
- Plainer bodies, thinner skins, open faces.
- Better quality wool, finer, higher yielding and longer wool.
- Our sheep have to be seen to be believed. Merinos that are out- performing crossbreds!
- We are now running a self replacing flock of just 1000 ewes.
- Last two years average 130% lambs weaned (this is to ewes joined).
- Average wool cut 3.85kg of 19 micron wool shorn at 8 months 85-95mm.
- Wether lambs averaged $121 a head at 24kg dressed at 9 months.
- Joining maiden ewes at 7 months with up to 40% conception rates.
- Wool quality is excellent, yielding 76% and being long, soft and crimpy.
These sheep are not only more profitable, but they are easier to manage.
We ceased mulesing in 2006.
Less fly strike summer 2010-11 was the first time adult sheep have needed treatment in 6 years. Less than 2% affected!
Mortality rate in weaners is less; now 1-2%
Our goals now are to produce an animal that can raise 150% of lambs, grow 5kg of 18 micron wool at 8-9months; Achievable? Who Knows? The goals we had 5 years ago nobody thought we could achieve. The results that we are getting each year are a testament to Scott's knowledge and passion for the sheep industry.
Industry leaders are calling for a merino that is more productive, more fertile and is non-mulesed. The expertise and genetics are available!
Sheep Classers like Scott Heeney should be the norm not the exception. Well done Scott.
Chris & Kerrie Blowes
Jandon Park, Molong NSW
Testimonial - Bruce Browning, West-End, Kondinin WA
For many years we always purchased Rams from a traditional Collinsville stud, they were big and had a fair bit of wrinkle. I was always frustrated when the lovely 18 micron rams I purchased ended up testing 22 or 23 micron the next year. I liked long soft deep crimp wool, on plainer type bodies and I bought a lot of rams with that sort of wool and plainer body but we could not breed it. We were going nowhere in our quest to change even if we purchased finer micron rams than the stud's average with the plainer type body.
By chance I stumbled onto a display of MPM sheep at a field day. It was an eye opener for me, they had long soft deep crimping wool on nice plain shearer friendly bodies. Scott Heeney came and classed every ewe on the farm, at the time about 2000 and went through our rams as well. It was a shock to us as he didn't like any of our rams and it looked like we needed a whole new battery. However with some compromise we took out the worst and replaced them as we could afford. Some came from Moojepin MPM at Kattanning and some from Great Southern MPM at Williams and still do today. All our ewes are put into classes and marked so they can be identified all their life. The lower grade ewes are mated to prime rams with the top grade ewes mated to MPM rams.
I have seen a rapid improvement in the sheep since making the switch 6 years ago. The improvements as I see them;
- easy care merino
- improved thrift (better doers)
- plain body type
- no body- strike
- shearer friendly
- reduced breech wrinkle
- reduced breech strike
- no need to mules
- long soft wool 19.4 micron clip average 2009 and 19.2 av. 2010
- high fecundity 107% in 2010 in a very tough year
We farm a mixed cropping, sheep, prime lamb operation with limited time to give the sheep at seeding and harvest. This type of sheep are much easier to run and seem to have a built in will to survive and do well, a lot like a cross- bred does. I think that they are a back to basics breed with open faces, large ears (high fecundity), plain bodies with very little pin wrinkle and long straight necks. We stopped mulesing 2 years ago but do try to keep a bare tail and have had no trouble with breech strike at all. Our wool cut hasn't reduced either which did surprise me as they carry less skin, but they cut more with the extra length in the staple. I have had shearers stop me when shifting sheep down the road and ask if they could do my shearing, a far cry from seven years ago when shearers complained all day about my sheep. The rams that we buy stay very close to the micron they are when purchased, this is because the skin is thin and will hold and breed its micron. I wish I had known this 25 years earlier. Scott Heeney has turned our operation around, so much so that I'm not sure if sheep would still be on the farm if we hadn't switched across to MPM. It has been a revelation. Our last two wool clips have won supreme clip of the sale awards with Elder's sales in Fremantle, I think this is an indication of where we are at now with our wool and am looking forward to some good returns with the current wool prices.
West-End, Kondinin WA