A later than normal delivery of prime Merino/SAMM lambs straight off abundant stubbles from the bumper season, helped Tim Alexander and his family of Timaru Beverley to capture WAMMCO’s Producer of the Month title for February 2022.
“Bad openings for three previous consecutive seasons had us selling most of our lambs to WAMMCO in January,” Tim said. Conditions were so good this season that we decided to take holidays in January , leaving the lambs until we returned.
“Not only did the earlier lambs average more than 2kg per head more than the previous season, we were able to put aside enough lupins and feed grains from the harvest to supply our feed needs for at least the next two years.”
“We went from heavy lamb losses and almost unmanageable conditions in the three previous seasons to probably the best season on record, Tim said.
The winning line of 294 Timaru lambs was processed at Katanning on February 16 recording an average weight of 23.4 kg and an average return of $187 per head. They achieved a WAMMCO Sweet Spot of 99.3 percent.
It was their fourth WAMMCO POM win, after titles for April 2008, January 2015 and January 2016, and a string of Producer of the Year placings including small crossbred lamb producer winner for 2019/20 .
SAMM rams from Graham Sutherlands’ Sandown stud were again used to mate 800 Merino ewes this season producing a total of 1,036 prime crossbred lambs for sale to WAMMCO. Consignments of Merino wether lambs – until several years ago sold for live shipment, - and mutton are also consigned to the cooperative.
“Our ewe flock is still well below a peak of around 5,500 in 2008 and the continuing high returns for lamb, justify our interest in lamb with its generally lower input costs over cropping.
“The SAMM/Merino mix has worked well for us in the past and should continue to improve our future position,” Tim said. “We are currently using 100 percent SAMM rams in the mating strategy and will probably continue this practice into the future.
Uncertainty over wool prices and a recent concerning decline in the value of lamb skins compounded producer concerns over freight and labour shortages and other threats to the meat industry.
“Sheep and lamb production continues to pose less risk for producers than cropping because of lower input costs, but we have yet to see any major swing back into sheep in our area,” he said.
A two-tiered feeding system takes over from stubble feeding to finish lambs destined for WAMMCO and each lamb is weighed before it leaves the property. A major reliance on lupins and barley underpins a self sufficiency in feed grain.
Oats and Vetches crops are sown on areas coming out of cropping rotations to provide back up grazing and assist with weed control.
Tim’s father Jim Alexander was made a life member of WA Farmers for his contribution to the WA livestock industry. A WA representative on MLA for some years, Jim was a keen advocate for the move by the Court government in 1999 to establish the WA Meat Marketing Cooperative.
He commented after Timaru’s second Producer of the Month title win in January 2015: “There would be few lamb producers disagreeing today that WAMMCO was the best way to go.”
The Alexander family’s tradition of successful farming will continue via Tim’s daughter Jenelle and her husband from York Andrew Reynolds and their two young children.
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