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TAS Country : January 6th 2011
uary 7, 2011 11 LOOKING BACK: John Taylor Snr outside the historic wool and shearing shed. IDEAL FARMLAND: Being naturally open country, Winton didn't require clearing in the early days. We had a very dry year in 1982 and everything on the property dried up except the river. We just had to open up all the paddocks so the stock could get to water. ' rn to judgment and making the right decisions,'' she said. The Taylors' proactive approach to selling and marketing their wool saw them make the decision to cease mulesing three years ago. Mr Taylor said they were receiving market signals that non-mulesed wool was a preference from their major buyers, which made the decision relatively straightforward. ''It does mean more work, but we're managing our way through it,'' Mr Taylor said. ''We thought if we could get through it, it would be something extra we could add to the promotion of our wool.'' Mr Taylor said balancing wool production with all the other traits such as fertility, frame size and now skin wrinkle was an on-going process. Despite having a reputation for being less hardy than other breeds, Mr Taylor said this was not the case with the Saxon merinos. ''They are actually very well suited to our harsh climate here,'' he said. ''You can put the Saxons out on the run country and they do very well, but with some of the other breeds they just wouldn't survive.'' During the recent drought, Mr Taylor said they had fought hard to maintain as much of their flock as possible, because they knew cutting back would mean years of work to rebuild. ''We were quite stubborn about it actually,'' he said. ''We decided that we would rather spend money on grain and labour and keep as many sheep as possible, rather then de-stock, because we couldn't just go out again and buy in sheep once the drought had finished.'' With sheep numbers now steadily increasing, Mr Taylor said they could afford to be more selective in their breeding and culling programs. Demand for their wool is continuing to grow and Mr Taylor said the plan was also to keep gradually expanding the flock. Shearing at Winton is done at the original wool shed which has also seen as extension added. The ewe flock is shorn in April and the wethers in October. While the Winton sheep flock receives at lot of attention, the property is also home to a top quality hereford stud which dates back to 1875. Nowadays, the herd has been reduced in size, due to the impact of the drought, but a core of breeding cows is kept. ''The cattle work well in the sheep rotation,'' Mr Taylor said. ''They keep the pastures down and help with the worm issues.'' The family's first move into water storage and eventually irrigation was to build a large 5000 megalitre dam after the 1982 drought. ''We had a very dry year in 1982 and everything on the property dried up except the river,'' Mr Taylor said. ''We just had to open up all the paddocks so the stock could get to water.'' After that difficult year, Mr Taylor said the dam was built in an effort to drought-proof the property. This strategy has been effective, but now the water is also being utilised for cropping. John said poppies and potatoes were their main crops, but cereals are also grown for stock feed. There are extensive underground water systems and five centre pivot irrigators.
December 23rd 2010
January 13th 2011