A close working partnership between Phil and Chris Bairstow in developing their ‘Gulnare’ Prime SAMM stud and commercial lamb enterprise at Dumbleyung as a centre for high growth lamb production, has been rewarded with WAMMCO’s Producer of the month title for June 2012.
The Bairstows blitzed the June competition with a line of 101 SAMM lambs that included 80 animals identified as WAMMCO Select - one of the highest premium percentages yet recorded on a commercial draft at the Katanning plant.
The consignment had a per lamb average weight of 25.72 kg, entirely within the fat score 2/3 range and sold at $4.34 per kg to return $111.73 per head.
Lambs qualifying for WAMMCO Select attracted a bonus of $5.30 per head, or an extra $4.20 per head ( 16.3 c/kg) across the draft.
Phil Bairstow said news of the title win came as a surprise, but confirmed Gulnare membership of the elite circle of SAMM stud and commercial breeders in the Dumbleyung area.
He and wife Chris defected from Merino production to go total cropping for four years in the late 1990’s before tough conditions forced a rethink on sheep and their recognition of the rapidly developing potential of SAMMs.
They took the opportunity to buy about 30 mated SAMM stud ewes from Esperance Rural Properties in 2002, and with a SAMM sire from Rocco De Bellis at ‘Gracefield’, Katanning and a keen early interest in Lambplan, they set out to produce SAMM rams for a commercial lamb operation.
“We started the commercial breeding program with a mix of about 800 Merino ewes and have now progressed to the point where the 1,000 head ewe flock is regarded as SAMM. We concentrated from the start on high, early growth, balanced with a close watch on muscle development.
“Chris virtually runs the lamb enterprise and has developed excellent systems for monitoring and managing ewes and lambs at critical times and identifying developing traits that we wish to adopt or reject. We have seen more ewes with triplets this year and many of these are looking good, despite the critical need for more rain.”
In recent years they have purchased several stud rams and semen from Tony Abbey and Graham Sutherland’s ‘Sandown’ SAMM stud at Badgingarra, including ‘Sandown 236’ now rated by Lambplan as Australia’s top SAMM sire.
“We are proving that SAMM lambs fit well into the 25-30 kg premium range and have a unique ability to reach weight quickly without going to fat.
“Our concern is that the US market decline in price proves to be temporary, or that WAMMCO can find viable new markets for heavier lamb.” Phil said concerns over price resulted in the couple’s decision not to feedlot finish their lambs this year.
“I could not justify spending $20 per head to feed lambs when the price was in decline, and we were lucky that the season has enabled us to achieve good weights under natural paddock conditions.”
He said sheep played a significant dual role on the 2,800 hectare ‘Gulnare’ property as a cropping ‘tool’ to control ryegrass. This year, Phil backed off a little on cropping whilst maintaining sheep numbers to keep the enterprise balanced.
The Bairstows are hoping for some good rains and positive news on lamb prices before their team of about 30 SAMM rams is offered at the Wagin Districts ram sale on September 25.
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