|Helle and Phil Crossley visiting the Katanning boning room
with WAMMCO Production Manager Rob Panting
Restarting their sheep enterprise after a three year break, with AMS ewes and SAMM rams has proved a winning formula for Katanning producers Phil and Helle Crossley.
The family won WAMMCO’s April Producer of the Month title with a line of 192 lambs that returned an average of $132.92 including skins.
Average weight of the lambs was 26.39 kg calculated at $4.89 per kilo after 52.1 percent of the consignment qualified for WAMMCO Select and a bonus of $628.62. Five lambs achieved the highest price per head of $149.47.
The Crossleys decided after dividing a family partnership in 2000, that they would disperse their flock of traditional merinos to pursue a total cropping enterprise on their 1,352 hectare, Katanning property “Congee.”
However by 2003 they were finding an increasing problem with weeds, and also with frosts that were adversely affecting their crops.
Working on the principle that ‘the best way to make a good lamb is to make it yourself,’ they purchased a flock of about 400 AMS ewes from local breeder Peter Eckersley and five SAMM rams from Rocco DeBellis’ “Gracefield” stud at Katanning.
The Crossleys purchased another 300 AMS ewes from Peter Eckersley in 2005 and 340 AMS ewes from Jamie Dare at Dumbleyung early this year. SAMM rams have continued to be sourced from Gracefield as required.
Their aim is to produce up to 1200 crossbred lambs this year and to continue to build the breeding flock.
Family friend and former State Lamb contest winner Richard Bessell-Browne assisted with advice on setting up a feedlotting regime this year utilising lupins, oats, molasses and hay through lick feeders. Lambs in the winning April consignment were topped up for 4-5 weeks in the system after being backgrounded on lupin stubbles.
Phil Crossley has followed a long-standing practice of top-dressing his clover/ryegrass pasture paddocks to boost their productivity and this has assisted to achieve good lambings and early growth.
Helle who met her husband as a Danish farm exchange student visiting WA in 1988, said frost-prone paddocks on the property had been returned to sheep production because they also carried good shelter belts for the breeding flock.
Phil said 2010 also marked a departure from selling most of the lambs at the Katanning saleyards, to selling over the scales at WAMMCO.
He said recent visits to see his lambs slaughtered and to inspect the new $5 million boning room at WAMMCO had confirmed the immense value to producers of the investment at Katanning.
“We see a very bright future in the medium term and a sound longer term future , provided world economies can return to financial stability,” he said.