Rebuilding the flock at ‘Moni-Carbi’

Quality Wool’s Ben Price and Charlton Gully grower Robert Proude at the family’s ‘Moni-Carbi’ property.

ROBERT Proude has been steadily increasing sheep numbers at his Charlton Gully properties near Port Lincoln since the 2005 bushfires.

Merino ewe numbers were as low as 60 after the fires, but Robert and his wife, Latisha, now run about 1250, of which 780 are mated to Merinos and the remainder to White Suffolk terminal sires.

They also grow wheat, barley, canola and lupins at their ‘Moni-Carbi’ farm.

The flock has been based on Glenville and Greenfields genetics, with a switch to Poll Merinos in recent years for easier management.

Robert said he selected for size and nice, bright wool without too much nourishment and skin.

“I like a darker tip, but still nice, bright wool,’’ he said.

Wool micron ranges from the mid 20s down to 21.5, with the ewes at 20 and 21 microns. Yields normally nudge 70 per cent and have been into the early 70s in recent years.

The sheep are run fairly hard, however wool growth and strength is a feature.

Born in May-June and shorn at the end of January, the lambs’ wool is normally about 60 millimetres in length. The hoggets’ wool is 92-93mm and the ewes’ wool is about 98mm.

The lambs are weaned at crutching time in mid September and go on to sown pastures. This also allows the ewes to dry off well before mating in December. The lambs are crutched late November, helping to avoid fly problems through until shearing.

The Proudes have been producing prime lambs for only a few years, selling them for around $140 a head and up to $160 a head through local Quality Livestock representative, Dennis Bronca.

Wether hoggets are held until their second shearing and sell to either local farmers, through the Dublin market or to abattoirs, achieving dressed weights of 27-29 kilograms.

The sheep go on stubbles after harvest, supplemented with some screenings, and the crossbred lambs are carried through until after shearing. The lambs have access to a barley/lupin mix in feeders, while feeding of the ewes also commences after shearing.

Robert said the family previously held shearing in July, when conditions were generally wet, and the switch to summer was “the best thing they ever did’’.

“Yields came back a little from our spring shearings due to the dust, which is why we brought the summer shearing forward from initially late February to late January.’’

The sheep cut around 5.5-6kgs per head and the wool is largely sold at auction with the help of local Quality Wool representative Ben Price. The family has had an association with the company for many years, having previously sold through its agent in the area, Bagnell and Gordon.

Ben and Robert with a board in the family’s old shearing shed that kept bale records from the late 60s.

Ben and Robert with a board in the family’s old shearing shed that kept bale records from the late 60s.

The Proude’s shearing shed, which is in its fourth season.

The Proude’s shearing shed, which is in its fourth season.