Record proces fro Dhone

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Fourth generation Koorda farmer Matthew Cooke has been working with sheep his whole life.

But never before has he reaped such high returns for sheep after his Dohne-Merino cross ewes set a new record last week.

“It’s nice to get a good price for sheep when the wheat income is down, ” Mr Cooke said.

Matthew and wife Lynne farm together with their son, Hayden and have been crossing Merinos to Dohnes for more than seven years.

The first rams were brought from Katanning stud, Summerfield, and the focus is now on using local genetics from Mollerin Rock Dohnes.

The switch was made for ease of care, a plainer body, faster growing, high fertility, good growth rates and finer wool.

Not afraid of change, the Cooke’s also moved their lambing to a later date to take the pressure off at seeding.

“We are now getting a lot better lambing percentage and at weaning we are averaging 99 per cent of our mated ewes with lambs born from the start of July until the end of August, ” Mr Cooke said.

They were joining around 2500 ewes, but due to seasonal conditions they have destocked and will now only have 2500 lambs of which the top 1000 ewe lambs will be mated.

“We will try and get our lambs up to 45kg to 50kg and hopefully get around 40 per cent lambing, from these young sheep, ” Mr Cooke said.

With high returns and poor stubbles, he said the decision to sell most of their breeding stock will allow them to chemical fallow the home farm to retain moisture.

Any sheep they continue to carry will be agisted using a strategy implemented successfully for a number of seasons.

They run sheep across a number of agistment properties from Koorda to Northam, which has helped build up numbers.

To get through this season, the Cookes have purchased lick feeders and converted round feeders to lick feeders, so sheep can graze consistently.

“A lot of our stubbles won’t have any sheep put on them this year. They are just too fragile and we don’t want the paddocks to blow, ” Mr Cooke said.

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