Greg Pearce and Sarah Klingner
Greg and Sarah are very pleased with the first drop of their Telpara Suffolk-Merino-cross lambs after buying a small block at Flaxman Valley 12 months ago. Picture supplied
FLAXMAN Valley sheep farmers Greg Pearce and Sarah Klingner are enjoying the first drop of lambs after purchasing a 33 hectare block last year.
Running 140 Merino ewes and investing in four Telpara Suffolk rams from Greg’s brother’s stud, the pair are in the process of improving the property with hopes of expanding their herd.
“It’s a small block with a section of the Marne River running through it, exhibiting stocked accessed bank erosion with no revegetation - there's no young trees established,” Greg said, adding he has plans to invest significantly into fencing off smaller paddocks for pasture improvement and rotational grazing.
“We’re fencing the creek out and we’ve got revegetation programs planned.
“For every significant gum tree there is on this block, we're going to plant a partner tree alongside it.”
Working as a general manager in the wine industry, Greg said farming has been in his blood from an early age.
“Both my parents were originally school teachers but my father had an interest in agriculture and, over the period of his teaching career, Dad would work during the day and then mornings and nights he'd be out on the farm,” he said.
“I have a similar path where I have a career running wineries across Australia and New Zealand and also slowly building up our farming interests outside of that.”
Sarah too has deep farming roots, with her mother's side of her family still working generational station properties in western NSW.
“It’s very much a weekend enterprise for us and, what we're really demonstrating and applying here, is the types of best practice techniques that would be employed on the largest and the best of farms but on a very small scale.”
Implementing sustainable landscape management practices, Greg said, was a small part of their long term plan to run a productive agricultural enterprise.
“While we have a commercial interest here, there's also the social interests that we have in the farm and the landscape, so it's multi-dimensional for us,” he said.
When it comes to their flock, Greg said the main objective is “to grow meat”.
“From an efficiency point of view, we're running Merino ewes and they are well-suited to the country here,” he said.
“The amount of energy those ewes require compared to first-cross ewes is significantly less.
“They’re lovely framed ewes sought specifically for our objectives through Dave Whittenbury, Quality Livestock, that work very well with the genetics from the Telpara Suffolk rams and we think the combination of all those elements has produced a really terrific result.”
Greg has combined, what he believes, is the best suited line of Merino ewes for the landscape to give the business an optimal commercial outcome.
“If we’re looking for terminal rams, we certainly believe that Suffolks have a great frame, they muscle well and we've chosen genetics from rams that are at the top of the breed,” he said.
“They come from my brother’s stud Telpara Suffolks and he’s been working on the genetics here for a number of years.
“They are doing exactly what we want them to do, which is to be at the top end of the productivity curve."
With a focus on ensuring the ewes are in top condition pre-joining, Greg seeks out nutrition advice from Hills Farm Supplies.
“My subject matter expertise is in maximising productivity from agricultural and horticultural systems yet I certainly don't know the answers to all of the technical solutions so work relentlessly on obtaining that from wherever I can,” he said.
Although in a higher rainfall district, offering plenty of feed on the ground, Greg said they provided supplementary hay during the last autumn period.
“We ran that hay through a feed testing process to make sure the energy and nutritional value was meeting the needs of the ewes and we continued to supplement with pre-lambing mineral mix to the ewes before we commenced lambing in May,” he said.
“We were able to cease supplementary feeding just after marking and, now, we've got lambs running on paddock feed only at this stage.
“For every kilo of feed that goes into them, whether that’s paddock or supplementary feed, they have the highest commercial conversion and that's the focus for us here.”
Greg said he had been pleased with the performance of their maiden ewes, which had a marking lambing percentage of 125 per cent.
“The young Suffolk-Merino lambs have been through marking and are now jumping out of their skins - they are really vibrant, soft supple lambs. We couldn't be happier with how they have performed.”
*First published July 2023 for Stock Journal 'Livestock Annual' - owned by Australian Community Media.