In early January they go through and take all the lower Condition Score ewes and will give them priority feed. This ensures all the ewes are going to the ram at a minimum BCS of 3 on 10 March.
Richard says a lot of thought goes into preparing the ewes for mating.
“It’s one of the key times of the year and we’ve got to get it right, we need to be scanning 190% plus.”
The ewes are body condition scored again at scanning and heading into lambing, Richard feeds the ewes as well as possible. The couple grow winter brassica and Italian ryegrass crops for wintering ewes. These crops allow the lucerne to be spelled over winter and most importantly, allow covers to be built for that critical lambing period.
The Gorman’s lease 250ha of vineyards in winter and this provides them with an opportunity to finish trading lambs over winter and graze ewes- again taking pressure off the rest of the farm.
Cattle play a minor role in the Gorman’s business, although they are used for managing pasture quality, particularly on their hill country. They run 87 Angus and Simmental cows and while the calves are typically sold at weaning, this is a flexible policy as when there are feed surpluses they will look to carrying them through for finishing.
In winter they may also finish 20-50 trading cattle on pasture- cattle do not graze the lucerne.
Large areas of lucerne have been established in the past seven years, but it has been the key to the success of the Gorman’s business.
While they have 160ha in the forage, they are aiming to have 200ha within the next two years.
Richard is fastidious about its grazing and weed management and believes by looking after it, they will get between six and 12 years out of each stand.
Having established an efficient lucerne system, Richard and Victoria are now turning their attention to developing their hill country. By focusing on sub-division, fertiliser and water, they will be better able to manage and utilise the subterranean clover that exists in their pastures.
Once this in place, they may look at lifting ewe numbers or have the confidence to consistently finish all of their lambs within their operation.