A mob of 263 first, second and third cross Merino/White Suffolk ewe lambs that failed to conceive to Dorper rams in December/January, delivered WAMMCO’s April Producer of the Month title to Beaumont composite lamb breeders Paul and Pauline Bertola and their son John
“They were going either to “RAMCO” or WAMMCO, and because they were in great condition with bodyweights of 50 kg plus, we decided to keep them on stubbles to prepare them for sale,” Paul said.
The 263 ewe lambs were processed at Katanning on April 16 to return an average carcase weight of 27.14 kg worth $89.77 per head over the scales at an average price of $3.31 per kg. Nearly 72 percent of the draft weighed above 26 kg.
Paul began to notice the extra returns from first cross Merino/ White Suffolk lambs in relation to wool and changed to a crossbreeding program 10 years ago.
Four years later he was well advanced with second and third cross ewes and ready to take the advice of local Landmark representative Peter Gale to experiment with composite breeding.
He sees a role for some Dorper influence in his breeding programs, but White Suffolks, - with most of the genetics coming from Anthony and Fleur McDonald’s Kullumba stud – remain the basis of his lamb production.
Paul said the family normally produces 1500 – 1600 lambs a year for WAMMCO and aims to deliver them as 22-24 kg suckers before early September.
This timing fits well with the cropping program at Beaumont and also avoids excess fat problems with the lambs.
Rainfall of 122 mm in January and a record 116 mm for April has set the stage for one of the best ever seasons for the Esperance region, with a dominant pasture base of Medic providing a major bonus for the Bertola family.
“We seeded everything to Medic when we first cleared the property in 1982, after moving to Beaumont from Gairdner River. Now it forms an ankle deep ‘carpet’ over most of the property,” Paul said.
The changing dynamics of lamb production, and the excellent season may encourage the Bertolas to commit to some out-of season lambs via later mating.
“Transport costs of around $5 per head and tighter margins suggest that out-of season production using our stubbles to finish some lambs later, may be necessary,” Paul said.
Already this year, he has imported 1,100 mated Merino ewes from the wheatbelt to cope with the abundant season.
“The purchase has enabled us to replace one lamb with three ewes, and with the pending shortage of breeding sheep in WA, we should be well placed,” he said.
The Bertolas were delighted to win the April title and are also ‘pleasantly surprised,’ by their steadily increasing stake in WAMMCO as shareholders.
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