Strategic breeding and enterprise changes continue to pay dividends for Grass Patch prime lamb producers Kevin and Simone Defrenne who have just notched up their second consecutive WAMMCO Producer of the Month title win for August.
The couple have continued to reduce their cattle enterprise, - down from about 300 to 60 head – while lifting their ewe flock to around 1600 mainly SAMM mothers and focussing on Dorper rams from Adrian Veitch’s Kaya stud at Narrogin.
“Lamb prices have not only continued to improve ahead of cattle, but we are finding we can get a quicker turnoff with lambs and they are easier to condition in a tight season.
Defrenelly Farms finished 23/130 in last year’s WAMMCO State lamb competition, and Kevin has entered lambs again this year.
The returns from his August 2011 winning Producer of the Month consignment not only confirm how the lamb market has advanced, but also how the quality of his SAMM/Dorper lamb product has improved.
The August 2010 winning consignment of 163 lambs averaged 22.27 kg and returned $5.25 c/kg to average $116.83 per head with a WAMMCO Select bonus of $202.61 for 35 qualifying lambs.
There were 169 lambs in the winning 2011 consignment from Defrennelly Farms and they averaged 22.98 kg at $6.07 c/kg to return $144.44 per head with a WAMMCO Select payment of $425.03 on 61 bodies.
Kevin believes the improvement in his WAMMCO Select bonus from $1.24 per head over last year’s consignment of 163 lambs to $2.51 per head for the 169 lambs processed this year was due in part to the higher percentage of SAMM than Merino blood in his ewes.
This year’s winning consignment of SAMM/Dorper lambs were weaned off their mothers onto Medic/ryegrass pasture about a month before delivery to Katanning. An annual spraying programme continues to bring barley grass under control and paddock feeders are used when required.
Pregnancy testing and the higher percentage of SAMM genetics has assisted to lift the marking average to around 115 percent and Kevin is moving towards pregnancy testing for twins.
He has purchased scales and taken control of his lamb marketing during the year and is pleased with the level of service he is getting from WAMMCO.
“My only complaint with the cooperative relates to delivery times,” Kevin said. “There needs to be greater flexibility with receival deadlines for more remote producers such as ourselves to reduce the stress levels of our truckies.”
The family continues to increase its shareholding in the cooperative and sees WAMMCO’s expansion into lamb processing in Goulburn NSW as a positive move.