Graze your way to higher profits

    Nutrien agent Ross Arabin and Roger Webster with Grassy Creek 405 ewes - photo credit Kristen FrostHighly productive, self-replacing Merino ewe flocks, with good management, will always have the potential to achieve highly competitive profit levels.

    But recent prices paid for surplus one-year-old Merino ewes in NSW have realised up to $415 per head - returns the Merino industry has never seen before. 

    In January a Northern breeder sold 220 ewes for $412 per head and a second pen of 200 ewes for $410 at their annual on-property sale.  

    A Southern breeder also recently made $405 for 400 ewes and late last year another breeder made a return of $415 to set a new record for one-year-old Merino ewes. 

    To compare these types of returns between current grain prices, feed barley is making about $200 per tonne and ASW wheat is priced at $250 on-farm.

    Therefore those ewes (at $400 plus per head) are equivalent to two tonnes of feed barley and one and a half tonnes of wheat.

    But as NSW Stud Merino Breeders Association president Drew Chapman pointed out, what the Merino has that no other agricultural enterprise has is extra harvesting options.

    “Ask yourself how many ways and times can you harvest a Merino sheep by shearing and selling surplus sheep?” he said. 

    “But with a crop, you grow it, either cut it for hay or strip it and that’s your one harvest.

    “Merinos will always offer better versatility.” 

    They can be shorn at different timed intervals to suit individual enterprises, such as six, eight,  or 12 months.

    Ewes can lamb down three times in two years and you can harvest them at any time of the year for cash flow.

    “The Merino provides ultimate versatility and profitability of an animal that is entirely self-replacing,” Drew said. 

    “The great advantage of a self-replacing Merino flock is there is no need to be constantly buying replacement breeding ewes, which at today’s prices, is a significant input cost. 

    “As opposed to our crossbred terminal friends, we don’t have to go out and buy a $250 to $400 ewe to replace them.” 


    Read more about Grazing your way to higher profits in the upcoming The Top Sire Annual


    Photo Credit: Kristen Frost - Nutrien Agent Ross Arabin and Roger Webster with ewes sold for $405.


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