WA’s only Coolalee prime lamb stud has ended a record-breaking run of six consecutive wins by SAMM breeders for WAMMCO’s Producer of the Month award.
Ron and Erica Russell’s Pingamup Creek Coolalee stud at Jerramungup:
• Won WAMMCO’s September award with an average $115.44 per head or $4.56 per kilogram for 154 lambs processed at Katanning on September 9
• Scored a WAMMCO Select premium of $343.12 on 38.96 of the lambs in the draft
• Supplied lambs with an average weight of 24.76 kg as some of the very first to be processed in the new $5.5 million boning room at Katanning when it opened early in September.
Ron Russell said this week that the POM win for September defied one of the hardest seasons he could remember, and rewarded more than a decade of investment and faith in Coolalees.
The couple hope their success may encourage others in their region to stay with sheep or to move into prime lamb production.
“There has been a stampede out of sheep in this area because of the low returns relative to costs and physical input.
“However lamb prices this year have improved and I believe there is a great future for lamb,” Ron said.
The Russells first saw Coolalees at a show in Toowoomba, Queensland in the mid 1990’s and were greatly impressed by the size, growth rates and fertility of the sheep.
“There were only 40 ewes and a single elite ram available from a breeder in NSW and we managed to get them to WA, just before the border was closed because of OJD,” Ron said.
The Coolalee nucleus produced rams for mating to a flock of 2,000 merinos and further upgrading over 11 years from F1 to a pure Coolalee commercial flock that currently consists of 2,400 ewes. The stud flock at Pingamup Creek has grown to 1200 ewes.
Ram clients of the stud include former WAMMCO Producer of the Month winner and 2004 lamb competition runner up Ian Quartermaine of Newdegate.
Ron says clients are consistently reporting lambing percentages in the 130 range, and triplets are becoming increasingly common throughout the breed in WA.
Impressive weight gains with low fat cover are another winning feature of the breed and have enabled the Russells and their clients to capitalise on periods of premium lamb demand.
The winning September draft included 101 lambs at WAMMCO’s daily schedule rate of $4.80 per kg , returning $100 or more per head. Top animals in this category reached $144.27.
An impressive 78.6 percent of the lambs were fat score 2, with 20.1 percent at fat score 3.