Milking the Dohnes for wool and lamb

Ewes, mated in Spring 2018 while lactating, and heavy in lamb again in April 2019.
Ewes, mated in Spring 2018 while lactating, and heavy in lamb again in April 2019.

Dohnes have proven to be a profitable and adaptable sheep breed.

The Glen Holme Dohne Stud is located north of Adelaide and breeds robust rams for many flocks in South Australia's agricultural regions, including the Hills and Mallee.

This number grows each year as clients talk to friends and neighbours.

Their suitability is highlighted by the performance of Glen Holme Dohne rams in the Balmoral Sire Evaluations.

The Merino Lifetime Productivity trial is showing that for the 2016 drop of ewes the early fertility of their Dohnes clearly outshines all other rams. His 38 daughters weaned the highest percentage of lambs by a clear 11 per cent for their 2018 maiden lambing.

Lambs born in late April 2019 from mothers mated while still lactating in Spring 2018.

Lambs born in late April 2019 from mothers mated while still lactating in Spring 2018.

With wool production comparable with 25 per cent of the Merinos represented and fibre diameter also near average, the profitability of the Dohne Merino strain is clearly evident.

Growth rates were also high.

More than 75 years of selection in South Africa and more recently 20 years of performance testing in Australia has brought predictability to the Dohne breed.

Using full pedigrees and collecting data for both fleece and carcass qualities combined with weights for different growth stages allows the identification of superior sires and dams.

Evidence of this dual-purpose ability is in prices received.

Bright white, stylish wool from Dohnes.

Bright white, stylish wool from Dohnes.

Glen Holme has received 1811c/kg greasy for ewe hogget wool at auction, and one local, long-term client has grossed more than $281 per head average for a line of 8-9-month-old Dohne wether lambs.

This comprised $237.50 over the hooks at the top grid price in January 2019, and $44 for the weaner wool which sold for 1490c/kg greasy.

These lambs averaged 32.5 kg over the hooks.

Couple this with AAAM wool from the Dohne maternal ewes at ruling market prices, and the fertility and milking ability of Dohne mothers, there is a robust base for a high profitability sheep enterprise.

Heavy weights at top prices are a good combination.

High quality white AAAM fleeces from Glen Holme Dohne flock.

High quality white AAAM fleeces from Glen Holme Dohne flock.

Dohnes are not seasonal breeders.

This has huge potential to help rebuild the national flock.

Regions with plenty of feed can mate on a short rotation, and drought-affected areas can utilise the inherent doing ability of Dohne ewes to rebuild their flock due to increased fertility.

At Glen Holme, this has been used to advantage.

For instance, last year a sire was added to lactating ewes in November, and a significant second lambing in just eight months was successful.

Healthy, heavy lambs.

Healthy, heavy lambs.

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These ewes had lambed in September and October 2018 and lambed again in April and May 2019.

On each occasion, many multiple lambs were raised.

In other years, some ewes weaned four lambs in eight months.

Glen Holme is a long-established stud that supplies and supports its clients.

Their ninth annual on-property auction is on Thursday, September 19 and will feature at least 90 rams that sit at the high end for productivity traits.

There is a large choice of top-producing new sires.

Details on rams and their production figures (ASBV's) will be available to download at www.glenholmedohnes.com by early September.

Glen Holme 172565, Grand Champion Dohne Ram, Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo July 2019.

Glen Holme 172565, Grand Champion Dohne Ram, Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo July 2019.

Approximately 150 commercial Dohne ewes will also be offered for sale on the day.

Glen Holme choose to host their sale in the second half of September because the season has turned warmer by then.

This means that feed quality in paddocks is better than prior to the Royal Adelaide Show, and the rams for sale have not been pushed artificially on a high grain diet.

Time and experience have shown that this greatly improves the resilience of rams and extends longevity.

Milking ability of Dohne mothers allows them to successfully raise heavy lambs for many different enterprises.

Milking ability of Dohne mothers allows them to successfully raise heavy lambs for many different enterprises.

Both contribute to better value for clients.

Rams are in working condition straight away.

Because the Glen Holme flock is run under high stocking rates, the pressure to be feed efficient enables the identification of the best genetics generation after generation.

The productiveness is identifiable through the use and display of ASBV's.

If you are seeking high prices for both lamb and fleece wool to enhance profitability, try Glen Holme Dohnes, they are bred for performance, not fed for appearance.

This story Milking the Dohnes for wool and lamb first appeared on The Flinders News.