Since the year 2000, Barry and Julie Eggerling have drifted in and out of drought on their property Wynn Downs, situated 100km south-west of Longreach.
During that time, the Eggerlings have not enjoyed any two good back-to back seasons, leaving them to make the tough decision to reduce their stocking numbers.
However, the couple received good winter rain last year, after recovering from a previous two year drought, that allowed them to bring their cattle home from agistment in the Eidsvold district.
Since late October this year their parched country has received three falls totaling 94mm, leaving them smiling.
Wynn Downs is 11,400 hectares of Boree Downs country and due to the continued drought years is only carrying half the sheep numbers with 2500 ewes including maidens and 1000 weaner lambs.
The Eggerling’s cattle numbers are down by a quarter carrying with just 150 Droughtmaster/Santa Gertrudis cross breeders left on the property.
It is a far cry from what the country can carry in kinder seasons, with full stocking rates closer to 7000 sheep and 600 breeder cattle.
However as the season improves, the couple are in a rebuilding phase and plan to increase sheep numbers to 4000 breeding ewes.
The Eggerlings join ewes from November using rams bought from Wally and Ross Miller, Coreena, Barcaldine.
“When we need a dozen rams, I give the Millers a call and they deliver into Longreach, and I pick them up,” Barry said.
Shearing takes place from the middle of February and produces a wool clip of 45 bales of 21 mircron wool, against a previous 120 bale clip in better seasons.
“As we breed up our sheep numbers, our wool clip will increase,” Barry said.
The Eggerlings are one of 12 sheep producers in the area who have placed an expression of interest with the Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) to be considered in the next round of cluster fencing allocation.
“If we are successful with this funding it will allow us to breed up our sheep numbers with confidence,” Barry said.
The Eggerlings join their 150 breeders to Droughtmaster bulls and keep the top 30 heifers as replacement breeders. The balance are sold as mixed weaners through the Blackall Saleyards.
Prime lambs secure couple’s future plans
Barry and Julie Eggerling’s son Martin and his wife Beck have diversified into the crossbred lamb market and now join their 400 Merino ewes to White Suffolks rams in a separate operation at Wynn Downs.
Initially, Martin and Beck bought 400 Merino ewes from near neighbour, Ron Pether, Roseneath, who has since sold his country.
These ewes were joined to Merino rams and once lambed out, the couple changed direction.
In Martin and Beck’s first lambing they achieved a lamb marking rate of 105 per cent. Their second lamb marking was bitterly disappointing – down to 22pc due to wild dog attacks.
“We marked 400 lambs last year, and only 80 lambs this year which was gut-wrenching to say the least,” Martin said.
They sold their Merino wethers to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame for use in a sheep shearing display and working dog trial as part of the Outback Show.
Martin and Beck are now looking to increase their numbers to secure a future and regular long-term income from their cross breeding project.
“We plan to pull all the crossbred weaners off earlier and sell them onto the store market, and this will allow us to re-join our ewes earlier,” Martin said.