PASTORAL COUNTRY: Byron and Kristina Crawford, and daughters Ella and Hanna, run 6500 Merinos on Weekeroo Station, north of Manna Hill. They also muster and sell feral goats to supplement their wool income.WHILE wool is the main focus at Weekeroo Station, north of Manna Hill, wild goats have provento be a valuable income sourcealongside the Merinoenterprise.
Nanjing Night Net

Byron Crawford, the fourth generation of his family on Weekeroo, wife Kristina and daughters Ellaand Hannasell about 3000 goats a year.

“This year, the goats have been worth more than the sheep. It’s a handy source of income,”Mr Crawford said.

The feral goats flourish in the hill country on Weekeroo Station. Mr Crawford said they werereasonably easy to muster and were sent to abattoirs, or a depot, in Broken Hill, NSW, which pay on liveweight.

Population numbers have remained steady in the Crawfords’ time on the 43,000-hectare station, with arecent boom in goat meat prices anddemand boosting the station’s bottom line.

The goats require no care and Mr Crawford said their average carcaseweight had been 12 kilograms to15kg.

Weekeroo is also home to 6500 Merinos, including 1000 wethers – which are run in the hills – and 100 rams, with theirwool sold through auctions.

“Our sheep are non-mulesed so we offer (wool)before the auction to some people that are interested in specifically non-mulesed,”Mr Crawford said.

“We haven’t had any problems with flies, we’ve been trying to breed plain sheep.”

Different shearing time frames have been trialed by the Crawfords and they have settled on an annual shearing in October.

“We started off doing it every six months, then every eight months and now we’re just going to do it every 12 months,”Mrs Crawford said.

Mr Crawford said there were benefits associated with six-month shearings but good seasons were required to make it viable.

“In a poor season you wouldn’t get50-millimetre combing wool, you’d be back into cardings,”he said.

“But when you havea dry year shearing takes a load off the sheeptoo.”

The Crawfords employ a contract shearing team whichusually takes a week to complete the job.

Mr Crawford said their wool was down to about 19 micronand they don’t want to go any finer, but they mainly select rams on the style of wool and frame.

Mr Crawford said fat yield measurementwas another major focus.

Lambing started in late May on Weekeroo, with Mr Crawford predicting an average lambing period.

“It’s been pretty dry leading up to it but these last couple of rains will help,”he said.

“The fact we’ve had a bit of rain means the ones on the ground should survive.”

The Crawfords said there was variability in their lambing percentage, estimating they average 70 per cent though they would push for more than 80pc.

Young family loves Weekeroo lifestyleWORKING on a station is far from just a means of making income for the Crawfords –it’s a way of life.

The Broken Hill, NSW, area has been home to the Crawford family for generations.

“My great-grandfather had a butcher shop in Broken Hill and he bought two of the original pastoral leases in the district and divided it all up, sold a fair bit of it and gave the rest to his six kids,”Mr Crawford said.

Weekeroo is the last property remaining in the family and Kristina and Byron agreed the lifestyle was what they relished most, and was ideal for raising children.

“The challenges and the variety of the work is what I enjoy,” Mr Crawford said.

Another issue the Crawfords constantly contend with is water.

They have severaldams but mainly utilise bores and have changed to solar pumps and improved their pipeline systems to contend with dry seasons.

“It feels like we spend a lot of time checking waters and fixing various water problems,”Mr Crawford said.

“Our main focus has been to make the water system more reliable and spread waters out.”

Mr Crawford also said labour hadbecome harder to find, though he remainedpositive about the future of agriculture and the family’s future on the station.

“I think the future of agriculture, in the long-term, is pretty good because the population is growing and we need to feed and clothe people,”he said.

“We’re pretty happy with what we’re doing and hope the girls will be interested in it so we can pass it on.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.