Dry season keeps Wes on his feet

Bob garnantCountryman
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Wes Lavender is in uncharted waters, making hard decisions after recording less than half the amount of average rainfall on his family’s Williams farm this year.

The young wool producer, like many of Australia’s progressive sheep farmers, is on a mission to encourage rebuilding of the Merino variety.

“It is unfortunate our attempts to increase sheep numbers have been cut short with low water supplies this year, ” Wes said.

“Our farm’s dam water is at record low levels, and we must still get through the dry summer season. We have recorded only 280mm so far this year, including the 50mm that dropped in March — our average is 550mm.”

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While the dry pasture feed has kept the sheep in top condition, Wes said he had to sell-off 400 wethers in August as feed supplies continue to run low.

“Even though farmers are getting good money for sheep, it is sad to see our State’s breeding ewes going east into cross-breeding programs, ” he said.

The Lavender family is hoping to maintain its flock by grazing sheep on stubble, but Wes said those higher elevated paddocks had the farm’s lowest dam water reserves.

“We will have to monitor those dams and may have to consider selling more wethers, and possibly the weaners, if we run out of water, ” he said.

As shearing got started last week, Wes said the wool was coming off quite soundly.

“We are moving our shearing forward from December/January to October for a couple of reasons, ” he said.

Wes explained that the earlier shearing would spread the farm’s cash flow and help to improve wool quality.

“Our spring-shorn wool should be well nourished and also free of grass seeds, ” he said.

Although the transition will mean a shorter length of staple off this year’s clip, Wes was confident the new shearing time would be an improvement.

“With current wool prices holding, we will be looking to offer our current clip soon, hoping the higher Australian dollar doesn’t hit the fan any time soon.

“Our biggest concern is water right now, and the prospects of getting through the summer months ahead, ” Wes said.

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