Improve Your Gross Margin
DOHNE MERINO, TIPS, AUCTIONS | Jul 16, 2019
The role of the Dohne Merino
Guest blog post: André Fourie, Anker Agri
For any sheep farmer, the number of head marketed per hectare per annum (known as the ‘turnoff’) is the single most important factor that influences flock profitability and gross margin.
Here are the aspects you need to look at, to maximise your turnoff per hectare:
- Flock Composition
This refers to the maximum number of ewes in relation to the total flock – you should keep this at a minimum of 60%.
- Lamb Growth Rate
The faster the lambs grow, the earlier they can be marketed at better prices, freeing production resources for a higher relative number of breeding ewes. The early marketability of lambs is therefore the key to higher ewe numbers, more lambs to market and higher profitability.
- Stocking Density
You can maximise turnoff per hectare by carrying the optimum number of ewes for your particular situation. Try to find the correct balance between ewe productivity and stocking density. But note: Maximising return per hectare does not equate to maximising return per ewe.
Take a look at the graph below. It shows how stocking density influences productivity per animal. Set your stocking density at a level which will maximise return per hectare from ewes capable of efficient production at that level.
Stocking density in relation to Ewe Productivity and Production per hectare
Production per hectare is maximized by an increased number of ewes at a feed level that optimises production per unit of feed. At this level ewes face competition for feed. To achieve this level of production, ewes must be genetically adapted to these conditions – which makes the type of sheep very important.
- Type of Sheep
Ewes must be hardy, easy-care and efficient converters of even low-quality feed. They must be non-selective grazers. They must have high reproduction rates, good maternal ability for high lamb survival and good milking ability for high lamb growth. Plain bodies and the optimum relationship between wool production and body size (WPP%) are essential attributes of the type of sheep capable of this level of production under hard commercial conditions. High wool production potential impedes reproduction and growth rate. Fine wool of the highest possible quality will enhance returns.
- Management planning
Plan lambing time in relation to maximum fodder flow, wean early and consider Feedlotting or marketing to Finishers. Good hygiene and animal health management is important to consolidate success.
Suidplaas Ram & Ewe Auction:
In August, Suidplaas Dohnes will once again hold a Dohne ram sale – one of the biggest private auctions to be held in the southern hemisphere. We’ll have 120 rams on auction, and 550 young ewes.