A good score in WAMMCO Select assisted Jon and Terry Ward of ‘Yaudling’ Dumbleyung to win WAMMCO’s Producer of the Month title for October.
Their winning consignment consisted of 261 lambs with an average carcase weight of 22.49 kilograms and a value per kilogram of $4.51, returning $102.89 per head including skin.
Twelve percent, or 33 lambs in the draft qualified for WAMMCO Select, attracting a bonus payment of $169.81. 168 lambs in the draft returned more than $100 per head with two of the heaviest lambs clocked at $123.75 each.
Jon Ward said his father’s traditional interest in Collinsville Merinos (up to 6,000 sheep at one point) laid the foundation for the family’s lamb operation.
“About ten years ago we started crossing Poll Dorsets and Suffolks over our merinos and we went to SAMMS about five years ago to breed first cross mothers to improve weights and lambing percentages, with most of our SAMM rams coming from next door neighbours Haydn and Mark Edwards of Rockdale.”
“The Prime lamb unit now consists of about 2,000 ewes, including about 600 first cross SAMM/Merinos and 1200-1300 merino ewes crossed to SAMM rams.”
Another 600 merino ewes are mated to Merino rams ‘for good measure.’
The Ward family have concentrated their lamb enterprise on a second 1,400 hectare property at Kukerin because of its greater suitability for grazing than Dumbleyung. The property consists of lighter country with a good sub-clover base.
“Seeding less crop and leaving more pasture at Kukerin probably assisted us to achieve 80-90 percent lambing in a difficult lambing year,” Jon said.
Kukerin experienced a tough start and a dry October but the bulk of lambs were turned off in the 22kg – 24 kg range in September and October.
“We have about 700 lambs left that will go onto pea, lupin and other stubbles and into feedlots before we turn them off in January.“
“I believe there is a bright future for lamb and like other producers we are hoping that prices will remain profitable. We do not always send all of our lambs to WAMMCO, but we are keen members of the cooperative and appreciate their bonuses and other initiatives.”
Jon and wife Candice are expecting their first child. John’s parents Terry and Karen continue to play a vital role in managing the sheep enterprise, with marketing assistance from Scott Jefferis of Landmark, Dumbleyung.