Suffolks offer lambing ease and fast maturing suckers

August 19, 2015

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David Lieschke with a July-drop stud ram lamb from his Otto Suffolk stud at Walla Walla.

What began as a commercial decision to produce an early maturing sucker lamb from Merino dams has evolved into a stud enterprise for a Riverina couple.

David and Helen Lieschke, of Walla Walla, still join Suffolk rams to their flock ewes to sell the progeny at Corowa or over-the-hooks, but also run the Otto Suffolk Stud.

The couple breed Suffolk rams for muscle, length, carcass weight and early maturity pattern combined with a low birthweight for lambing ease.

They run a flock of 1400 Merino and Border Leicester-Merino cross ewes joined to Merino, Suffolk and Border Liecester rams to produce either self-replacing or terminal lambs.

These dovetail with a cropping program of 350ha of wheat, oats, barley and peas.

Mr Lieschke said the Suffolk offered fecundity and lambing ease, with his Merino-Merino joinings resulting in a lamb marking of 100 per cent compared to 140 per cent in the Suffolk-Merino cross.

In March, the Lieschke’s sold 237 Suffolk-Merino cross lambs, finished on dryland lucerne, over-the-hooks to average 26.7kg carcass weight at 527c/kg to return $146.36 (including a skin value of $5.15).

In comparison, their Merino lambs (two months older) had an average carcass weight of 22.5kg, and a total value of $118.79, including a skin value of $6.75.

“We have found the purebred Suffolk lambs grow out quickly to export weights, if they have the feed,’’ Mr Lieschke said.

The Otto Stud was originally founded by the family in 2001 on South Australian genetics, with the rams used over classed-out Merino ewes.

David and Helen took on ownership of the flock in 2008 and have since undertaken AI programs using semen from New Zealand and Western Australia studs.

The couple have used the showring since 2010 to increase their stud profile but are now showing at selected events due to the farm workload.

They run 140 registered ewes and sell around 38 rams a year, and purebred ewes, by private treaty into stud and commercial flocks in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Sires are DNA tested for spider lamb syndrome, are Gudair vaccinated and brucellosis accredited.

Last year, the first live shipment was exported to China – 18 ewe lambs and five ram lambs, weighing from 35 to 50kg liveweight.

“We sell most of our lambs as suckers but later season lambs are held a little longer,’’ Mr Lieschke said.

“The lambs are low birthweight and then grow vigorously.’’

Each year, David classes out around 300 Merino ewes, averaging 19.5 micron and cutting 8kg, to join to the Suffolk rams for an April through to a spring lambing.

Ewes are pregnancy scanned into wet and dry, early or late, and run in mobs of 100-200 to increase lamb survival.

Lambs finished on grazing cereals, or lucerne while some are weaned onto feeders, depending on the season.

Otto Suffolks exhibited at the Henty Machinery Field Days for the first time last year, showcasing a pen of Suffolk-Merino cross lambs weighing an average of 46kg liveweight at 16 weeks of age.

The Lieschke family has strong ties with the field days, with several generations attending as visitors.

“Henty attracts people from a fairly wide area and last year we sold several rams into the Riverina, plus had follow up inquiries,’’ Mr Lieschke said.

“Visitors to our site were impressed with the muscle and length of the Suffolk cross lambs.’’

This year at Henty, visitors will have a chance to win a voucher to the value of $500 for a Suffolk ram by guessing the average weight of a pen of Suffolk-Merino cross lambs at the Otto Suffolk Stud site at Block V 10426.