Split joining of Merino ewes creates flexibility in a variable climate

Merino producers can achieve flexibility and reduced risk in their ewe operations by adopting a split joining strategy.

Conservative lamb producers in southern Australia often mate Merino ewes during summer, to lamb autumn to mid-winter. This approach aims to ensure prime lambs have sufficient time to reach a marketable weight before spring pasture growth and quality declines. This system can only support low stocking rates as the ewe’s peak feed demand coincides with low pasture availability during autumn and winter.

A more aggressive approach involves mating Merino ewes during autumn, to lamb in spring, matching feed demand with expected pasture supply. However, a failed spring will put this system under pressure due to supplementary feed requirements and reduced returns from unfinished lambs.

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