A trial with SAMM rams from Rockdale stud Dumbleyung, has enabled Katanning lamb producer Sheldon Kowald of Capemont Farms to add WAMMCO’s January 2011 Producer of the Month award to his impressive list of titles.
Consistent supporters of the State Lamb Carcase competition since 2005 Sheldon, his brother Trent and father Barry gained various placings up to second in 2006, with his Yow Yow and Hillcroft/Poll Dorset/Merino, entries. The family has entered both Poll Dorset and SAMM/Merino cross lambs in the 2010/11 competition to be announced at Katanning on March 22.
His first Producer of the Month win came with a line of 112 Rockdale SAMM/ Willemenup Merino cross lambs that averaged 23.49 kg and $4.74 to return $112.87 including skin, with top lambs reaching $135.35.
68 lambs in the consignment generated a WAMMCO Select payment of $370.91, representing an extra $5.45 per qualifying lamb, or $3.31 over the 112 lamb consignment.
Like many farmers, the Kowalds have always run Merinos, and when lamb prices began to stabilise several years ago, they decided it was time to upgrade from their traditional practice of using a few black face rams to produce lamb from cull for wool Merino ewes.
“We have had an excellent base of Willemenup blood Merinos to provide a large frame Merino ewe and began to source higher performing Poll Dorset rams from Hillcroft, Narrogin.
“With some guidance from WAMMCO’s Rob Davidson, we quickly found that buying quality rams and taking proper care of your ewes, as well as weighing and fat scoring your lambs makes lamb production far more profitable and far less onerous. We also found that it does not pay to carry ewes that do not conceive at the first mating.
Sheldon said the winning line of lambs processed at Katanning on January 12, 2011, were by five SAMM rams he bought from Rockdale stud at Dumbleyung last year.
“The Poll Dorset crossbreds that also went to WAMMCO in January, actually achieved heavier weights and higher returns and we are still undecided about any major change to our genetics.”
He said Capemont Farms no longer crops wheat but relies on Canola and barley as major crops, with smaller acreages of lupins and oats. The mix is 55 percent Merinos and lambs to 45 percent cropping and the rotation is canola then barley then two years of clover based pasture.
The current flock consists of 3,350 Merinos, of which about 750 are mated to Poll Dorset or SAMM rams.
“Wool’s rising prospects are finally beginning to justify our faith in Merinos, particularly with the attractive 20 micron wool we are getting from our Willemenup blood ewes,” Sheldon said.
A consistent user of WAMMCO’s weight and grade system, he welcomed the cooperative’s recent price increase to $5.60/kg.