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Chrome sheep studs – set for another big season

HOT off the back of some big prices this last year, Chrome Sheep Studs is set to capitalise on the current trend. The Trade Lamb Indicator for the eastern states is up $2.70 on the same time last year, bringing with it enormous confidence in the sheep meat industry.

With this in mind, potential buyers are urged to register for the pre-inspection day on Monday, October 4 between 1-4pm. Rams will be penned in lots of four and clearly identifiable – the same as they will be on sale day.
Ram sale day will be held on Thursday, October 7, with inspection from 9.30am and the sale beginning at 11.30am. All coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations will be in place.

I caught up with Matt and Tanya Tonissen to see what sort of a season they have had.

Tell me about the season you have just had?
“After a late break, the season has turned out ok. We containment fed all our sheep through the late Summer/Autumn period, so by keeping them in for an extra couple of weeks and using strategic urea and potash applications we were able to create a feed wedge ahead of lambing which in turn has given us more feed coming out of the winter and enabled us to lock up some silage paddocks and get some spraying done early for summer crops. Scanning rates in all ewes were really good with our mixed age ewes all scanning in the 180s and 2-year-old ewes in the 160s.”

What direction have you taken genetically and what do you expect to gain from this?
“We would be hoping to use the best of our Embryo Transfer bred ram lambs through our stud matings in 2022. Shortens the generation interval.”
Matt is impatiently awaiting weaning of lambs from his extensive embryo transfer program.
In late February, Chrome undertook their largest embryo transfer – they flushed 29 of their best ewes and mated them to their best proven sires for a total of 277 elite embryos. These were then placed in commercial Chromedale ewes, and they lambed in some of our worst weather with a 91.1 per cent survival rate.

It’s a lot of work and a complicated process – so why have Matt and Tanya decided to go down this path?
“Firstly, it enables us to maximise the number of elite genetics in one season. By choosing the very best of our ewes and joining them with the best genetics from our own proven sires, as well as those elite genetics from within Australia and New Zealand (which were from semen storage, as importation from New Zealand is no longer possible) we will magnify the chance of producing the most elite genetic breeding animals possible.”

Prices in the market are great – how will this affect the ram sale?
“I would be happy to lock in a result like we had last year, however with lambs already pumping along off the back of some really good prices last year, the ram sales could be stronger again. Many early sales so far are all up on last year.
“As much as it’s good to have some big prices, I would much rather sell more rams at a high clearance rate for a lower average. For that reason, we have increased the numbers at this year’s sale by nearly 70 rams across all breeds to try and satisfy client demand. It’s great to have a complete clearance like last year but I would be happy to pass a few in. That way I know everyone is getting a go, cause not everyone is prepared to pay top dollar.
“Probably the biggest change in the last two years has been the need to take individual videos of all the rams due to state border closures etc. It will take probably five days to take the footage and at least another week editing and uploading all the clips on to YouTube.”

This is Tanya’s area of expertise and Matt is more than happy to leave her to it! It’s just another example of how our industry has had to change and adapt – not just to COVID-19 restrictions and border closures but to an agriculture industry that requires us to spend increasing amounts of time in an office ticking boxes and meeting compliance regulations.

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