Tough seasonal conditions with a ten percent lower lambing, prevented Woodanilling’s Bessell - Browne family, who are former placegetters in WAMMCO’s State lamb competition, from entering the 2011/12 contest.
|Peter and Wendy Bessell-Browne from Naballing Estate|
However a draft of 110 SAMM lambs delivered from the Naballing Estate feedlot on March 15, just after the deadline passed for competition entries, won Peter, Wendy and son Lee, their first WAMMCO Producer of the Month title.
“The lambs were the first out of the feedlot and were mostly fat score 2 (78.4%) after four weeks on a mix of oats, and lupins with some barley added,” Peter said.
Their winning credentials were an average carcase weight of 22.02 kg for an average return of $5.14 per kg (including skin), or $113.26 per head, with individual lambs scoring up to $140 per head.
WAMMCO Select identified 57 lambs in the draft for a bonus of $309.44, representing an additional $5.43 per head, or an extra $2.81 per head over the entire draft.
Peter said the tight season with a ten percent drop in lambing had resulted in a higher retention of lambs this season and he expected a slightly smaller total turnoff of around 1500 lambs, mostly from the feedlot.
The Bessell-Browne’s moved into prime lamb in 1991, at first using Poll Dorsets and White Suffolks over their Collinsville Merinos, before obtaining their first SAMM rams from local stud breeder Rocco De Bellis of Gracefield Prime SAMM Stud, Katanning.
SAMM rams are now sourced from Phil and Chris Bairstow of Gulnare Prime SAMM Stud at Dumbleyung and the flock of 2,500 breeding ewes is 80 percent SAMM and rising.
Peter continues to see lamb production via feed lotting as a key to the viability of smaller family farms such as Naballing, and believes recent State initiatives to produce a million more lambs each year will depend not only on seasons and improving genetics and husbandry, but also on WAMMCO’s ability to generate adequate price incentives.
Son Lee, who has been working as a shearer, is now able to spend more time on Naballing. Lee and wife Cathi recently welcomed their third baby.
“We continue to reduce our reliance on cropping in favour of sheep production, and will be planting more sub-clover and Serradella- mix pasture this season,” Peter said.