Best of both worlds for Hewtons

Kate MatthewsCountryman

The very first WA-bred Ile de France-registered stud rams are available for sale this season.

Jerolyn stud owners Rob and Dani Hewton purchased their Ile de France stud two years ago, after being blown away by breed attributes including excellent carcase traits, fertility and non-seasonal lamb production.

"Many WA farmers are getting serious about producing more prime lambs by using F1 dams that will give them plenty of lambs," Mrs Hewton said.

"With the white-woolled Ile de France breed they have the best of both worlds - a non-seasonal extremely fertile sheep with a fantastic fast-growing, meaty carcase - the ideal F1 dam and prime lamb sire."

Pure-bred Ile De France sheep are reported to have 150 to 180 per cent lambing rates and can be joined from eight months of age with ewes handling three lambings in two years.

The Hewtons imported one ram and five ewes from Victorian stud Ile de France Australia in August 2009 where sires have been used across a range of breeds, from hot arid areas in Queensland to a colder and wetter climate in South Australia.

With help from Simon Bell's Breedtech in Kojonup, they began an embryo transfer program using Merinos as recipient dams.

"Some of the ram lambs gained up to 462 grams a day for the first 100 days with ewe lambs gaining 415gms a day," Mr Hewton said.

"By five-and-a-half months old, the ram lambs were as high as 68kg and the ewes were as high as 60kg and both had eye muscle scores of up to 40mm.

"The average Ile de France ram tends to get to about 60 to 70kg quickly and then tends to slow down until reaching maturity."

Last year, the Hewtons mated nine-month-old rams with Merino ewes which proved extremely successful.

"We had over 90 per cent of lambs marked from mating numbers and it was a higher rate than other mobs on the property," Mrs Hewton said.

"We were very happy with the outcome especially given the tough season our sheep endured."

The Hewtons are also taking breech measurements serious to breed barer-breeched sheep.

"Our initial focus was mainly on the terminal traits of the Ile de France; however many of the producers, who have looked at our sheep and noted the great attributes of the breed, are really interested in and encouraged by their maternal qualities," Mrs Hewton said.

"A lot of people who looked at our sheep at Woolorama made the comment that they were impressed that a breed with these maternal qualities had such a great carcase.

"The Ile de France really is the breed of choice for producers wanting to produce fast growing, muscly, white woolly prime lambs and non-seasonal F1 dams."

With only a small quantity of rams left available for sale, Mrs Hewton said anyone interested should get in touch as soon as possible.

They will also offer four rams at the Darkan Stud Breeders Sale in October.

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