Sheep help Koorda farm spread risk

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Koorda farmer Reece Boyne and his family have started offloading sheep, as dry conditions continue.

Mr Boyne, who farms with his wife Gina, parents Richard and Fran and uncle Peter, recently turned off about 700 newly shorn weaners, leaving 1600 Dohne breeders and a lacklustre crop well below the 8000ha achieved last year.

The Boynes’ Dohne sheep, with Mollerin Rock bloodlines, are used as part of a rotational program within their 80/20 cropping and sheep operation.

This year, they cut back their cropping program from lack of rain, sowing 4200ha of wheat, 1300ha of canola and 400ha of oats.

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Mr Boyne said they had hoped for a good amount of rain on the weekend when a cold front brought showers to Perth and farther south, but only received 2mm.

“They’re great sheep and we are very disappointed to see them go,” Mr Boyne said.

“We will be getting the wool off any dry sheep and sending them to abattoirs or the Eastern States.”

Mr Boyne said incorporating sheep into their farming operation had helped to spread risk.

Last year, 25 per cent of their crop was affected by frost and, this year, their entire canola crop planted in early April has died from lack of rain.

“We had 100mm of summer rains, and after we had finished spraying, we started planting our canola in early April, because even if it is a bit dry, you need to get your crop in as quickly as you can around here,” Mr Boyne said.

He said they felt confident because the moisture was down about 100mm to 125mm and there was rain forecast at the time.

“The seeding started in the red country on the northern points of the farm,” he said.

“We thought it was going to be a great season and we just haven’t had any significant rain, with only about 2mm to 12mm falling on the farm since then, depending on where you are standing.”

Mr Boyne said they had run out of time waiting for it to rain.

“If we had reasonable showers now, we’d be happy with an average to a bit below-average season, but that doesn’t seem very likely,” he said.

“Any money we can make back to try and stop the losses would be helpful.”

Mr Boyne said the sheep and wool business was now more important than ever.

“I hope we’re not going to have to sell any of the breeders, because we’ve got them right where we want them as far as balance between weight gain and wool production,” he said.

“That is why we breed Dohne, because they put the kilograms on quicker than a Merino and also get a reasonable wool cut off them.”

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