RUNNING a handful of Dorpers is a big change from broadacre farming at Yandilla, but Charlie and Susan Uebergang have eased into it by setting up a unique market, selling straight to the customer.
The Uebergangs have a small flock of just 20 ewes at “Cooleigh”, Irongate, near Pittsworth, using genetics from Bellevue Dorpers, Millmerran.
“When we bought 100 acres near Pittsworth we wanted to run a few cattle and decided we'd run some sheep because the previous owner had Dorpers here,” Mr Uebergang said.
“Dorpers are really practical for us – we looked at them first because we didn't want anything I had to shear, and the property was already set up for sheep and goats.”
The Uebergangs have now been breeding Dorpers for about 18 months, with good results.
Earlier this year they had the champion pen of lambs at the Pittsworth Show, and were also named most successful exhibitors in the prime lamb competition.
Their focus though, is a paddock to plate system, following on from the family’s success selling beef through a local butcher.
Dorpers are really practical for us – we looked at them first because we didn't want anything I had to shear, and the property was already set up for sheep and goats.
“We sell sides and quarters of beef, and that has just flowed into the lambs, so we send them to the abattoir to be killed, then they’re butchered locally and customers pick them up from there,” Mr Uebergang said.
The lambs are turned off at six months, usually weighing about 50 kilograms.
They’re mainly grass-fed, but Mr Uebergang uses a small amount of grain each night to get them in a pen.
“We lock them up at night to keep them away from wild dogs,” he said.
Selling direct to the customer may create a bit more work, but it’s paying off with minimal market risk.
“I think there's more in it for us to sell them privately because I'm guaranteeing a good product,” Mr Uebergang said.
“We’ve found our clients through word or mouth, but sometimes it's hard work, spending a lot of time on the phone making sure we've got someone to buy them, but if I've got 10 ready to go I'll just start calling people to get orders,” Mr Uebergang said.
“The same people come back to us and most of them want a full sheep at once. Some will only take half, but I'm usually able to find someone else who can take the other half.”