Ditching woolly ewes for hairy sheep is a bold move that has paid off big time for southern New South Wales farmers Brian and Helen McKelvie.
- Brian and Helen McKelvie, Marrar, NSW, sold 26 twin-bearing Australian White commercial ewes for $1,210 a head
- It’s understood this is a new Australian record price for commercial ewes
- The McKelvie’s ewes eclipsed a record set a fortnight ago of $1,015 a head
The Riverina sheep producers rewrote the record books yesterday when they sold twin bearing ewes for a massive $1210 a head- which is understood to be a new Australian record price for commercial ewes.
The draft of 26 Australian White Tattykeel certified commercial ewes that were pregnant with twin lambs were bred and sold by Brian and Helen McKelvie from Marrar.
“We didn’t expect anything like those prices, given what’s been happening with the price for Australian Whites.
“I thought they might have got to $1,000 for the tops of them, but to get $1,210 for them is unbelievable and is one of those days I will always remember,” Mr McKelvie said.
This is the fourth time since June that this record has been broken, rising $222 from the first record set on June 16.
The ewes sold on the online selling platform AuctionsPlus were just 11 to 13 months old and weighed an average of 60.7 kilograms (live weight).
Mr McKelvie said favourable weather conditions had helped keep the ewe in good nick during pregnancy.
“They have been on good mixed pastures, and we grow a lot of forage crops now for the sheep, and we get a lot of good results with that,” he said.
Three for the price of one
The ewes are set to lamb in October, which means the record price could be considered a good deal for the buyer.
“I think they were a pretty good buy when you consider their value against the ones we sold with single lamb,” Mr McKelvie said.
The ewes attracted plenty of attention, clearing reserve by $310.
There were 81 bids placed on the lot by seven different bidders, four from NSW and three from Victoria — with the successful purchaser from Rochester, Victoria.
The McKelvie’s second draft of 30 ewes scanned-in-lamb with singles was not far off the top money, which sold for $1,040 a head to a buyer from Jindera, NSW and received 67 bids.
The price paid for the McKelvie’s ewes eclipsed a record set just a fortnight ago by R and K Greenfields from Bundalong in northern Victoria, who sold 40 pregnant Australian White ewes for $1,015 a head.
No shearing and ease of management a win
At 80 years of age and farming since he was 15, Mr McKelvie has been running sheep for all his career.
But just over a decade ago, he decided to move out of breeding cross-bred and Merino sheep and started looking around for a new breed.
That’s when the McKelvie’s came across the Australian Whites breed 11 years ago.
The Australian White is a breed of Australian meat sheep originally developed for Australian conditions and growing rapidly in popularity.
“It’s the ease of management that works for us as they are self-shedding, and we don’t get the fly problems and have to crutch,” Mr McKelvie said.
“There’s just a lot less maintenance and labour with these sheep compared to the crossbreds and merinos,” he said.
Grandpa’s shout after claiming Australian record ewe price
When the sheep are selling well, it’s a win for the whole family, as Brian, affectionately known as “Briza” by his grandchildren, has to shout Chinese takeaway for dinner when he has a handy payday with his livestock.
Lucky for them, he has more sheep ready to sell soon.
“We’ve actually got quite a few younger ewes, they are only ewe lambs around 16 to 20 weeks old now, and we’ll be selling them in the next month to six weeks online again,” Mr McKelvie said.
Best prices, best season
Mr McKevlvie said it was a great time to be farming.
“With the high lamb prices and high sheep prices, I didn’t think I would see it this good,” he said.
As for his crops, Mr McKelvie said they looked terrific.
“We couldn’t ask for much better, especially following last, which was very good, and this one will probably be just as good,” he said.
“Something would have to go wrong for it not to be a bumper harvest. We’re in a very good position.”
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