A decision by Tim Alexander to cut short his annual leave to send off a first draft of 224 SAMM/Merino cross lambs for the season to WAMMCO resulted in his second consecutive January Producer of the Month and his third POM title win since April 2008.
“I was thinking of cancelling the booking and staying on holidays, but daughter Jenelle offered to organise the shipment and I was obliged to help her,” Tim said this week.
The consignment was processed at Katanning on January 27, with the 224 lambs averaging 23.87 kg and returning $120 per head including skins. Heavier lambs in the line fetched up to $160.
Tim said there had been little change in the lamb enterprise on the family’s 8,000 hectare ‘Timaru’ property near Beverley in the 12 months since his January 2015 Producer of the Month win, with about 1,700 Merinos set aside for mating to SAMM rams.
“We have returned to a Merino ewe flock so that we can increase numbers quickly if lamb prospects improve. However the lambs we deliver between now and July will be off feeders and we are concerned that if prices do not stay above $5 per kg, they may not be enough to adequately cover costs.”
The winning January consignment was delivered to Katanning straight off barley and lupin stubbles and comprised the heaviest lambs.
“I am a believer in separating the bigger lambs quickly to allow lighter weight animals a better chance to grow.
“We experienced a tough season after reasonable opening rains in April saw little rain until July, then good August rains and a hot, dry finish.
“Seeding about 250 hectares of clover/oat pasture saved me because it took off after the August rains and we were able to shut it away and put the lambs onto it during the dry winter.”
The June drop lambs are shorn in October and go onto the best stubbles while a delivery schedule is set with WAMMCO to run between January and July.
Tim said daughter Janelle had influenced him to stay with sheep, albeit with a much smaller flock than the 5,500 ewes they were running when they won their first WAMMCO title in April 2008.
“Like me, she is watching the declining margins on grain and is keen for us to keep an interest in lambs and wool as a hedge,” Tim said.
“We are managing to keep labour costs down and the lamb enterprise fits well into our operations.”