Meat merinos prove successful for Amby grazier

Amby grazier John Beitz' switch from wool to meat Merino sheep


John Beitz, Middle Ridge, Amby, with some of his meat merinos.

John Beitz, Middle Ridge, Amby, with some of his meat merinos.

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Dabbling in both the meat and wool sheep game is working for John Beitz.

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IT wasn’t too long ago that Amby grazier John Beitz had wild dogs eating out his calves and lambs with those that survived to make it to shearing rewarded with low wool prices.

Now the owner of the properties, Middle Ridge and Washpool, spanning 5000 hectares, is enjoying the success of a number of management changes on his cattle, sheep and cropping operation.

It was about 10 years ago when Mr Beitz switched their wool sheep flock to Meat Merino genetics starting with rams from Ben and Cheryl Duxson, Glendemar Stud, Marnoo, Victoria.

The Duxsons were involved in the MLA – Best Wool Best Lamb program in which they spoke of their desire to breed early maturing sheep with plain body types and high fertility. 

Their sheep were said to physically look more like meat sheep, with their mature ewes weighing 60-70kg and cutting 4.5-5.5kg of 19-19.5 micron wool shorn every eight months. 

The Beitz family run a flock of 2100 meat merinos.

The Beitz family run a flock of 2100 meat merinos.

While Mr Beitz and his wife Cathy have since built their flock up to 2100 head of the multipurpose sheep, wild dogs hampered their lambing rates.

“I started leaving my rams out all the time because they kept eating my lambs all the time and then whenever it got dry (four years ago) all the late calves at Washpool, they just massacred them,” he said.

“So I had to learn how to trap. I trapped 26 (wild dogs) on Washpool.” 

It led the couple to begin erecting a seven wire plain electric Westonfence three years.

Now, not only are their lambing figures eclipsing 100 per cent following years of 30 to 40 per cent, but wool prices have risen for them too.

Mr Beitz said, most recently, they were able to get 40 odd bales of wool from their sheep following an eight month period with their next sheering due in April.

“They (meat merinos) are miles bigger, no wrinkles, thin skin and now we shear every nine to 10 months and probably get more wool then we used to at 12 months,” he said.

“It allows the old $60,000 wool cheque and then send the lambs down (to kill) and get another $30,000.” 

Mr Beitz has been impressed with his meat merinos.

Mr Beitz has been impressed with his meat merinos.

Traditionally Mr Beitz planted up to 600 hectares of wheat but four years ago he slowly began reducing his planting area.

Now 100 hectares of oats is grown and used to finish their wether lambs before they are sold to Thomas Foods in Tamworth.

They also run a herd of 500 cross bred cows with their weaners taken to feeder weight on the oats and sold at the Roma store sale. 

Last year they turned off 400 wether lambs and 160 feeder cattle. 

Up until 25 years ago, Mr Beitz’ father ran a Hereford herd but he has since gone on to use Santa, Brahman, Brangus, Simmental and Droughtmaster bulls. 

Mr Beitz hopes to begin increasing his meat merino flock numbers with the 2018 season already off to a good start following 123mm of rain in February. 

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