Phil, Susan, Corey and Olivia Mincherton’s SAMM/Merino lamb enterprise at Ballidu, may have delivered its first – and last – WAMMCO Producer of the Month title.
A line of 140 SAMM/Merino cross lambs from an August 2013 drop on the Mincherton’s Ballidu property averaged 24.69 kg @ $5.46 per kg to return $134.93 per head including a $2.71 skin. The lambs were processed at WAMMCO Katanning on May 29 with 61 of the carcases recorded in the premium, 18.1-24 kg fat score 2-4 range.
“We have another draft of lambs heading for Katanning this week, but that will probably be our last,” Phil said.
“However I still have about 20 good young SAMM rams, and plenty of salty country – so we might return to breeding a few lambs to keep that under control,” Phil said.
A Merino flockowner of very long standing, Phil Mincherton was an early switch to SAMM breeding in 2000 after an initial attempt to breed fat tail Karakuls for live export.
“At one point we were breeding second and third cross SAMM ewes, but we reverted to buying in Merino ewes to ease a management problem.
“It didn’t matter if it was a good fence or a bad fence or gate, the SAMMS usually managed to break through so we asked our local Elders stock representative Jeff Brennan to find us suitable Merino breeding ewes.
“The ewe flock reached 2000 at one stage, but tight seasons and changing cost and price incentives brought the flock back to 1000 two years ago, and to our exodus this year.”
Phil said he had tried separate lambings in April and August to spread seasonal and market variations and had also experimented with mating ewe lambs.
The family property “Lakeside” consists of 3,500 arable ha with around 2,000 ha of salt country and the Minchertons lease another 2,500 ha of nearby cropping country.
Phil said round-up ready canola and other cropping innovations made it difficult to justify lamb production against cropping in the Ballidu area – particularly when lamb prices fell to $80 per head or below.
“The cost of feeding sheep and lambs is high, especially in tight seasons and yet it is often cheaper to spray weeds for cropping than to keep them for feed.”
“The story is certainly different when lambs reach $130 plus per head and we would all hope that the lamb production industry remains viable.”
Phil said most of his Lakeside SAMM cross lambs had been sold to WAMMCO with Jeff Brennan’s assistance in ewe selection from S. & N. Hathaway’s ‘Overpark’ SAMM stud at Kalannie, as well as Jeff’s help with lamb drafting.