The promise of a reasonable return from crossbred lambs saved Lake Grace farmer Mike O’Neill from a future dedicated to total cropping back in 2009.
Poor wool returns and the need to manage troublesome Merino hoggets had all but convinced Mike and wife Lesley that there was no place for sheep on their 1,000 hectare property.
However, positive talk about breeding SAMM lambs for a relatively good market, tempted the O’Neills to try some SAMM rams from Ross Taylor’s local “Tiarri” stud over 600 of their Merino ewes and that decision now sees them keeping half the property for cropping and half for a SAMM-based lamb enterprise.
A draft of 136 of their second cross SAMM lambs has just taken off WAMMCO’s November Producer of the month title for the first time, with an average of $105.65 and a top price of $126.05 including skins.
The lambs were selected with the help of Elders livestock specialist in Lake Grace, Graeme Taylor and averaged 23.24 kg with 40.4 percent of bodies in WAMMCO’s premium target range. The lambs have also been entered for the WAMMCO State Lamb competition. Graeme coordinates lambs from the O’Neills with lambs from other local clients to maximise freight to Katanning.
“Our cropping returns so far this outstanding season are our best ever and if the weather permits us to get it all in the bin, will easily eclipse our income from the SAMMS. But we have had more bad years than good ones over the past decade and without the security of the lamb enterprise our ambition to do more caravanning would still be a fair way off,” Mike said this week.
He said he had developed a good working relationship with Tiarri owner Ross Taylor (and he wasn’t a bad deep sea fisherman as well).
“The SAMMS have been relatively easy to run and are good mothers producing well over 100 percent lambings. Their wool is lighter in weight and of lower quality but still shows a handy return.
“We have added some of the second cross SAMM ewe lambs to lift the breeding flock to around 700 ewes this year. They will be mated just before Christmas with some later lambers to give us access to higher prices later in the season.”
Mike’s clover based pastures are manipulated to improve productivity and to suit cropping cycles.
“There has been plenty of green feed this season right up until now and apart from topping up with some barley through lick feeders, little supplementary feeding was necessary.”
The family joined WAMMCO as a shareholder with the change to SAMMS in 2009 and has since increased its shareholding to ensure a share of rebate entitlements.
Mike says new lice and fly technology and other management aids have made sheep ownership easier and he is confident that lamb returns should remain stable.
His son Kelvin farms 12 km away and also runs a mixed Merino/SAMM flock.
“We share our workloads but make our own management decisions in an arrangement that works well for both,” he said.
The definition of lamb is changing in Australia – from 1 July 2019. The old definition of lamb was ‘A female, castrate or entire male that has 0 permanent incisor teeth’. ...Read more
WA Meat Marketing Co-operative Chairman Craig Heggaton has urged state and federal authorities to investigate reports that overseas investment trusts and companies are banning livestock production on the WA farmland ...Read more
There has been no loss of interest in prime lambs since Darrel and Diane Hudson of Yleena Farm Dowerin became the first Producers of the Month winners for their area ...Read more
The Land Board members who granted young Narrogin farmer Barry Rick one of eight virgin land titles south of Newdegate in 1980 would have been impressed at the time by his ...Read more
Peter and Lee Bessell-Browne of ‘Naballing,’ Woodanilling were thrilled to take out the WAMMCO Producer of the Month title for March 2019 with a draft of 109 Merino/Prime SAMM ...Read more