Tambellup producers Ben and Tracey Lamont are on a lengthening list of WA farmers relying on a quality flock of Merino breeding ewes to generate good returns from their 20 micron wool, and a solid annual income from prime crossbred lambs..
Ben’s family won WAMMCO’s Producer of the Month title for June 2018 with a line of 144 Poll Dorset/Merino lambs that averaged 20.95 kg to return $129.12 per head including skin. 97.2 percent of the lambs fell into WAMMCO’s premium value category.
“The lambs went to WAMMCO earlier than usual because of a tight start to the season. They were in good condition but lighter than normal with 70 percent recording fat score 2 and 30 percent fat score 3,” Ben said.
“We were using Poll Dorset rams for crossbreeding before I took over the property from my father Robbie Lamont in the late 1990’s, because of their proven ability to gain weight faster so that you could turn them off earlier.
“Four hundred of our current breeding flock of eight hundred of our current breeding flock of Merino ewes were mated to Poll Dorset rams from Curlew Creek this season with a further 1000 ewes mated to Merino rams.
“Other producers have moved to introduce prime lamb genetics into their breeding flocks but we have found our Dorset/Merino cross returns satisfactory, whilst also enabling us to concentrate on improving wool quality within the pure Merino ewe flock.”
Annual shearing was moved back from August to July many years ago to enable ewes to better mother their lambs, increasing lambing percentages.
Ben said the mating program aimed to have ewes lambing at the end of July/early August. Older ewes are mated to the Poll Dorset rams to lamb in April for sale as suckers in September. These ewes have also been returning good dividends from sales towards the end of their breeding cycle.
Seventeen year-old son Brendan was home from Narrogin Agricultural College last week drilliing oats into existing clover paddocks to boost green feed supplies later in the year. He and Ben aim to seed around 100 ha. of oats per year.
Brendan agrees that a farming ratio of 70 percent livestock to 30 percent cropping has evolved as their best option because of the solid profits available from lamb and wool, compared with high cropping input costs with diminishing returns, and the added flexibility they have for managing the property. His sister Stephanie was also home on leave from Albany’s Great Southern Grammar last week.
Ben said both he and father Robbie had used extensive soil testing as a basis for farming and developing the property. A visit to WAMMCO after the current plant upgrade would be a pre-requisite for Brendan to see a future line of their lambs processed.
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