Deep Dene was founded in 1967 by the late Harry and Dawn Berry with one ram and 70 ewes from Whyandra Stud in Georgetown. Whyandra stock were re-introduced annually up until 1974 when Harry bought “Big Bone” an Ecclefechan ram which was a game changing ram.
Changing hands from Harry and Dawn to Lloyd and Christine in 1981, saw the move from a Merino Stud to a Poll Merino Stud. Poll bloodlines were introduced from Moorundie Park, Charingas – Munchy Junior and 83. Rockbanks – Big Softy (a favorite) was introduced to maintain body structure and increase production and continue Lloyd and Christine's objective of growing big, strong, straight body sheep with soft, white free growing long staple wools.
More recently Nerstane's 159, Centre Plus Poll's 351 and 185, Hazeldean 'Hugh' 3542 and Moorundie NE73 bloodlines have been introduced - all through A.I programs. Each introduction has been strategic and added to make improvement to the productivity and quality of Deep Dene’s genetics.
The incentive of having low maintenance sheep meant that Lloyd and Christine spent more time in the Berry Partners cropping enterprise and the sheep spent more time in the paddock being sheep.
When Christine took over the books from Dawn she found a love for figures and spreadsheets. She records everything, truly believing that one day she’d have a database to enter it all into.
"With data records going back 30+ years we are able to predict the most likely scenarios in production with in a given rainfall pattern - pasture growth, crop yields and stocking rates" Christine Berry
Along with Christine’s immaculate data recording, she and Lloyd believed without comparing yourselves with other farmers you can’t continually strive for better production.
"You can never know everything and you can always learn something from someone else". LLoyd Berry
So the era of bench-marking began.
They have been part of The Kangaroo Island Sheep Production Group since inception in 1997 and are now members of the Farm Owners Academy (since 2016). Both groups are led by veterinarians who are leaders in the expert knowledge of sheep husbandry, bench-marking and productive, profitable farming enterprises. Deep Dene productivity has increased along with other farming enterprises who consistently strive for improvement and finding better ways of doing things.
Late 2015 daughter Caitlin came home to work on the family farm after 4 years at The University of Adelaide studying a Bachelor of Science, Animal Science. Her passion is sheep: breeding high quality merinos, nutrition, welfare, husbandry and working on a sustainable, productive healthy farm. Caitlin had the opportunity in participating in the National Merino Challenge and highly recommends it to anyone interested in the Merino industry.
"It's a was a cool opportunity and would definitely recommend it to others if they get the opportunity. It's great way to practically use the industry tools such as Lifetime ewe, MERINOSELECT, phenotypic scoring to name a few." Caitlin Berry
Caitlin won the Breeding and Selection Challenge. She loves Merinos and with skills gained from Tom Padbury, Deep Dene's stud classer, knows how to select rams that will take you forward.
"The Constitution, Confirmation, Conversion and Coverage of a ram is equally important in ram selection as objective and ASBV classing to ensure your breeding sheep for the future." Caitlin Berry
The rams selected for Deep Dene's commercial and nucleus mobs are classed first on phenotype at a young age and for the duration of their life. This has been the same selection process since 1967 and ensures confirmation and constitution remain of high importance annually.
"It is essential that the best sheep have outperformed the year drop by thriving in their environment and by doing it grazing pasture." Lloyd Berry
In 2015 Deep Dene invested in BreedElite (BE) a database developed by the local veterinarian Greg Johnsson specifically for sheep enterprises. This database, along with EIDs, captures phenotypic and objective data and seamlessly sends to SG to receive back, ASBV values. This program has improved the reliability of data captured for each individual animal and improves Deep Denes efficiency of selecting animals. BE's layout enables the user to view all captured objective, phenotypic and ASBV figures for each animal at a click of a button.
ASBV's are used on Deep Dene as a proofing tool to ensure all our selection methods are working to improve production per hectare. ASBVs are also a very good indicator of identifying possible highly productive animals at a young age. More informed decisions are made in the selection process due to the use of ASBVs. To read more about ASBVs click here.
Sires used to link Deep Dene were selected based on the Stud historical performance, location, linkage and accuracy. This was to ensure Deep Dene sires were evaluated against Australia's top ranked rams in the ASBV's which aligned with their core values. These sires include Centre Plus's 407185 in 2016 for his safe frame and accuracy, Turkey Lane's 140042 in 2017 for his wool and location. Hazeldeans 3542 was used for the 2018 mating season as he is the top ranked ram in the MP+ index at 242 with 82% accuracy. Most recently Moorundie Poll NE73 was used in the 2019 A.I. program as his DNA profile indicated high performance in CFW, Merino Production Plus index, low wrinkle and has a PP gene.
Progeny from these matings are retained or sold at Deep Denes discretion after their objective measurements have been recorded. Clients have the option of picking out A.I. F1 or F2 progeny at Deep Dene's annual sale held on the first Friday of November annually.
Going forward sires will continually be selected for Deep Dene Nucleus mating's that fit the objective of low maintenance sheep, that are proven, profitable, performers. ASBVs are used to back up the objective and phenotypic data captured to ensure the rams selected create continuous improvement for commercial enterprises. ASBVs also help our clients select the ram that most suits their own breeding objectives, whether in be breeding a dual purpose self replacing flock with high worm resistance or breeding for a merino production self replacing flock, increasing CFW/ha and increasing body size.
With Caitlin's fresh knowledge on current breeding practices and Lloyd and Christine's 30+ years in breeding sheep, Deep Dene have the know how and the tenacity to breed productive low maintenance rams for your commercial enterprise.