WAMMCO’s decision to modify its Producer of the Month criteria has seen the competition recommence, focussing on plant and marketing efficiencies, and no longer includes and lean meat yield measurements.
The criteria are now focussed on consignments of 100 or more crossbred lambs with the monthly winner being the consignment with the highest percentage of defect-free carcases that meet WAMMCO’s ‘sweet spot’, which is 18.1 to 28 kg, fat score 2 and 3.
Long term Wubin sheep and lamb breeder Keith Carter took out the January 2017 title with a line of 202 White Suffolk and Poll Dorset x Merino cross lambs, of which 98% achieved the WAMMCO efficiency-based, ‘sweet spot’ status.
“My son Boyd thought local Westcoast Livestock agent Paul Gatti was pulling his leg when he rang to tell us we were WAMMCO’s “Producers of the Month” for January, Keith said.
“We were all impressed at how well the lambs had performed, with an average carcase weight of 22.75kg returning $116.73/hd at $5.13/kg.”
Keith is a third generation member of the Carter family to farm the Wubin property. “My grandfather took up the small “Glenfyne” block in the 1920’s when the original owner walked off,” he said. “We have built it to 9,000 ha with some additional leasehold land, and we have always run sheep to balance the cropping.”
He said he took an early interest in the Australian Merino Society, looking first to improve wool returns from his sheep, then reaping the bonuses of better fertility, and larger ewes with good mothering capacity. Wool and shipping wethers continued as the main sheep focus into the 1980’s, until the prospects for crossbred sheep became more evident as shipper and wool markets lost certainty, and the benefits of being able to produce higher numbers of faster maturing lambs influenced many sheep producers.
Retaining his AMS ewe nucleus, Keith tried SAMMS and Poll Dorset genetics before settling with White Suffolk rams, now sourced from Steve Girando at Marchagee.
Keith has been a consistent supplier of prime lambs to WAMMCO and has welcomed rebate payments to boost his returns over the past decade.
The winning draft of lambs was processed at WAMMCO Katanning on January 19. They were from a lambing that began in the first week of June, 2016, onto wheat and barley stubbles. By weaning time lambs and ewes had a choice of oaten hay cut from green fodder crops, serradella and native grass pastures or lupins and barley from lick feeders.
Keith said the lambs were from 4, 5, and 6 year-old mothers that were bulk fed a supplement of lupins at mating. They delivered well over 100% lambs.
He recently purchased a line of 700 mated ewes, some mated to SAMMS, from a neighbour to boost flock numbers. He said the solid performance of his lamb enterprise had proved a good hedge against lower wheat prices.
A trouble-free harvest had been followed by 25 mm each from two recent cyclones that had kept the green feed going. The same cyclones dropped 100 mm of rain on country just to the south of ‘Glenfyne’.
With pastoral country just to the East, wild dog control is a major topic of discussion for the Carters and other farmers in the area. Keith said lapwire trials at Goodlands and Kalannie appeared to be showing promise and were linked to the appointment of a dogger by the local shire, using Royalties for Regions funding. Together with farmers from Koorda, Dalwallinu and Perenjori, they are watching these trials, along with the formation of local dog control cells that appeared to be having some success.