Lotfeeding a prime proposition

Thursday, June 02, 2011
  

There's a certain amount of passion required to lotfeed large numbers of sheep. This is particularly the case if you have anywhere between 5000 to 7000 sheep going through a feedlot each year, such as the two at Brad and Jan Eastough's property between Northampton and Chapman Valley.

In 2002 Brad and Jan moved to Utikka and they farm together with Brad's brother Ashley, his wife Belinda and their parents Kevin and Maureen, over the six properties that make up their 5400 hectare farm.

Brad admits he had always wanted to run as many sheep as possible.

"I would rather run sheep than cropping," Brad said. "What's better than working outdoors on the best days of the year, instead of sitting in an air-conditioned cab?"

Even though the Eastough family has seen their share of tough years and devastating droughts, Brad held onto his sheep when many in the area couldn't. They started lotfeeding sheep in 2006 and purchased any breed of sheep he could from surrounding areas, as many farmers needed to off-load their numbers due to the drought.

"I had always wanted to do it (lotfeeding) and then in 2006 when there was a drought we built a feedlot here," Brad said. "We bought a lot of sheep that were going cheap in the area and later we purchased our own stock truck to cut down on freight."

Even though nearly every type of breed might be purchased to go onto feed for 21 to 28 days, Brad remains truthful to his own flock of 1000 mated Merino ewes, 1000 older Merino ewes mated to Poll Dorset and 350 Merino ewe hoggets.

The Poll Dorsets were purchased in addition to the Eastough's traditional Merino flock 16 years ago and Brad chose the breed for its white wool, good pool of genetics and large frame. After being mated for the first few years with Merino rams, the Merino ewes were then joined with Poll Dorset rams when they reach four years to produce lambs for the prime lamb market.

With a sire battery of 16 Merino rams and 40 Poll Dorset rams, many of which are from the Eastough's own breeding program, the Poll Dorsets are joined on October 25, while the Merino rams are joined on New Year's Eve.

For more on this story, please go to : http://fw.farmonline.com.au/news/state/livestock/sheep/lotfeeding-a-prime-proposition/2175805.aspx?storypage=1

     

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