Tried and true tradition

Merino the staple of choice for Hackers at Isisford


Sheepmeat
The marketability of Angus cattle is key for Andrew Hacker, who runs a sheep and cattle enterprise at Hazelwood, west of Isisford.

The marketability of Angus cattle is key for Andrew Hacker, who runs a sheep and cattle enterprise at Hazelwood, west of Isisford.

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With the surname that he has, it's no surprise that Andrew Hacker is a fan of Merino sheep, nor that he and his wife Sally plan on running more of them at Isisford.

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With the surname that he has, it's no surprise that Andrew Hacker is a fan of Merino sheep, nor that he and his wife Sally plan on running more of them at Isisford.

Thanks to an exclusion fence and 32,375ha cluster taking in Hazelwood, which they purchased last year, and two other properties, Roselea blood sheep are in the paddocks there.

At the moment the couple are running a 50:50 cattle-sheep enterprise, taking the opportunity afforded by some extra grass to trade in a few more cattle, but investing in more sheep is the long term plan.

"We hope to run 2000 ewes with 2000 followers, 4000 sheep maybe, and a couple of hundred head of cattle, is what we're aiming at," Mr Hacker said. "Sheep are a pretty profitable enterprise; they have a better turnover than cattle and they're not as hard on the country."

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They are running with a traditional October-November joining to lamb out in April-May, and having a meatworks a few hours to the east at Charleville factors highly in their plans for their annual lamb turnoff.

"Charleville is so important, it really helps with distance out here. It's so important for the whole western Queensland sheep industry," Mr Hacker said.

"We try and support Charleville and make sure it stays open.

"If it folds, we can only go to Tamworth and that's a long way."

Highlighting its value was the price received for a truckload of cast for age Merino ewes and wether lambs received in mid-September - $5.60/kg for the ewes and $7/kg for the lambs.

Thanks to good rain in March from ex-Cyclone Trevor and the resulting Mitchell grass coverage, the sheep were in excellent condition off-shears and Mr Hacker expected them to dress out very well.

Both sheep and cattle were turned off from Hazelwood at Isisford last month.

Both sheep and cattle were turned off from Hazelwood at Isisford last month.

He is not at the stage of keeping wethers yet, preferring to concentrate on boosting ewe numbers and having that reproductive strength.

While concentrating on a Merino operation, they are mixing things up a little with the Dohne stud they inherited with Hazelwood, which Mr Hacker said was impressing him.

Opportunity feeding is the difference between taking store prices and making a difference to your bottom line at sale time, and it's something Andrew and Sally Hacker say they will concentrate on going forward.

"Feed storage out here is extremely important, when grain and cottonseed is cheap, you just need to have some of it away to give those stock a lift to get to a saleable product," Mr Hacker said.

"If your lambs are five kilos light, it can mean a lot of difference so if you can feed them for six weeks on a bunk or a grain bin to give them that little bit extra, it makes a big difference."

In this and other ways, Mr Hacker is a fan of sticking with the mainstream rather than following niche ideas.

"We believe in doing what you do well but take your opportunities," he said.

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