A new ‘Dorperlee’ prime lamb jointly developed by Pingelly farming neighbours Alan Cunningham and Steve Kolb, has won WAMMCO’s October Producer of the Month title for Alan and Joanne Cunningham and their son Brodie.
Alan Cunningham said he and Steve Kolb began trialling Coolalee genetics from Ron and Erica Russell at Jerramungup, over their Merino ewes about 13 years ago. Then followed infusions of the best genetics available, including Poll Dorsets, White Suffolks, Texels and White Dorpers. It was the White Dorpers from Adrian Veitch’s Kaya stud at Narrogin that introduced wool shedding and other features, and led to the name ‘Dorperlee’.
“Developing a composite breed gave us a wide genetic pool with exceptional hybrid vigor, and self sufficiency for a supply of rams we have been using now for the past eight years. Our surplus rams have also proved increasingly popular with other producers.”
Alan said the family farms at Pingelly and Corrigin were predominantly grain enterprises.
“However we have developed our prime lamb business to utilise salty tree lines, rocky ridges and other areas of the Pingelly farm that are good for grazing, but not suited to cropping. They also go onto stubbles over the summer months.
“The sheep are an ideal complement to our cropping operations and require very little maintenance. They are self shedding because of the Dorper influence, there is no mulesling, shearing or crutching required, and we have little or no problem with grass seeds.”
He said the family’s entire 1200-ewe flock was now carrying Dorper characteristics. The diverse pool of other bloodlines was focussed on high meat quality and productivity.
"Brodie and I select and tag 60-70 rams for breeding over the cradle at tailing and castrate the rest."
Their breeding program, backed by pregnancy testing, aims to produce three lambs from each ewe every two years
The Cunninghams were keen suppliers of ‘Q Lamb’ and ‘Farm Fresh’ to the WA domestic market, before moving to WAMMCO.
Their October title winning line consisted of 110 lambs with an average carcase weight of 22.22 kg, processed at Katanning on October 28.
At the daily schedule price of $5.05 per kg and with a WAMMCO Select payment of $141.45 on 25 bodies and a $2 skin value, the average return over the consignment was $112.21 per head. Individual lambs reached $129 including skins.
An impressive 95.5 percent of the consignment were in the Fat Score 3 category.
“We use our own vehicles to deliver lambs to WAMMCO at Katanning and we are impressed by the improvements in technology that are keeping WAMMCO competitive on both global and domestic markets . Processors are like lamb producers, - if they do not keep up, they are quickly left behind,” Alan said.
He said he tended more to let lambs be just paddock finished - using self feeders when required. Steve Kolb had specialised in feedlotting and marketing ram lambs and was also doing well with WAMMCO.
Alan said the Dorper influence in his flock was producing skins of unique quality.
“There is not enough volume in these skins at present, but we hope to see a higher future value for these thicker, smoother skins,” he said.