Colour is everything for meat sheep producers

Former Miles meat sheep breeders move their operation to Windera


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Ann and Lindsay Boyle, Bimbury, Windera, moved to the area with their meat sheep and cattle 15 months ago.

Ann and Lindsay Boyle, Bimbury, Windera, moved to the area with their meat sheep and cattle 15 months ago.

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You can't drive through Windera now with out noticing the hundreds of coloured sheep in paddocks neighbouring the highway.

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IT may have taken 38 semi-trailer loads and an entire month’s work but just over a year since shifting their meat sheep and cattle operation from Miles to Windera, Ann and Lindsay Boyle are preparing for their best year yet.

The couple, who started with 10 sheep in 2010, now run 300 ewes in a crossbreeding flock of Dorper, Meatmaster, Australian White and Damara breeds along with a herd of 40 South Devon cross cattle.

While their new property is half the size of what they had in Miles, the Boyles have wasted no time in getting the most from their Windera country. 

The cross breed meat sheep at Binbury, Windera.

The cross breed meat sheep at Binbury, Windera.

This year they hope to increase their lambing rates from as 100 per cent to 300 per cent without any hormones and the help of Goondiwindi based consultant Lloyd Dunlop.

“The meat sheep will naturally give you two lambings a year so what he is aiming for is the twins factor,” Ms Boyle said.

“We were feeding them chickpea huskings (in drought at Miles) and we found that when we fed those we got the twins, that was trial and error.”

It’s all part of their expansion into a paddock to plate business, Bimbury Laamb, from March 23 when they will send their sheep to Chinchilla to be slaughtered and offer boxed cuts for $16/kg at local markets.

They intend to continue supplying their current market in Mundubbera, after turning off 90-100 lambs last year.

Alpacas help guard the sheep.

Alpacas help guard the sheep.

Their wether sheep are lotfed from about 35kg on a range of hay, crop or sprout supplements the couple grow on farm until they reach 45 to 50kg. 

Mr Boyle said the decision to cross breed was based on chasing hybrid vigour with the colour of their sheep critical to their operation.

“We have noticed this time our coloured ones have got a greater weight gain than the white ones but I don’t know why people want white,” he said.

“When the skin is off, it’s all meat. 

“This (coloured) fellow here, he is 43kg but he doesn't look like it.”

The couple have 71 hectares of cropping with soybeans, lucerne and fodder millet in the ground following strong harvests of chickpea and millet recently. 

“We had about 260mm so we got 675 small square bales of millet plus 114 round bales,  all off 10 hectares,” Ms Boyle said. 

Ann and Lindsay Boyle.

Ann and Lindsay Boyle.

With Mr Boyle away operating their drilling business, the operation of Bimbury is often left to his wife who is able to do most of the treatment work herself with adapted sheep catcher technology.

“When we first bought the catcher they said it doesn’t work that well on coloured sheep,” she said.

“The beam required the white wool to reflect the light so we got a different beam that you break the beam and it catches.”

Six alpacas are used to help guard their flock from wild dogs.  

For more information follow Bimbury Laamb on Facebook and keep up to date on their latest paddock to plate information. 

Turning to paddock to plate

Windera meat sheep producers Ann and Lindsay Boyle said the decision to create their own market through paddock to plate sales was driven by the need to supply local lamb produce back to Queenslanders.

“The biggest thing is you can’t buy Queensland lamb in Queensland,” Ms Boyle said.

“We don’t produce enough to service our own market and a lot of what is grown here is exported so most of the lamb you will buy from the butcher shop is Tasmanian etc.

“(Meat prices) have been getting better for the last two or three years and they say it is going to keep getting better because more people eat lamb than they do beef. 

“For us, we wouldn't go back to eating woolly sheep because they taste so different and our sheep are leaner.”

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