An easy-care, self replacing flock based on a genetic ‘blend’ of “Moojepin” and “Great Southern” Multi Purpose Merino mothers and “Capolinga “ SAMM rams, is an integral prime lamb/wool component of the large “West End” farming enterprise of Bruce, Chris and Garrett Browning , Kondinin.
A delivery of 151 SAMM/MPM cross lambs from the Kondinin property was processed by WAMMCO at Katanning on May 16, and won the Cooperative’s May 2012 Producer of the Month title.
The lambs averaged 22.04 kg to return $106.41 per head, with 92 lambs or 60.9 percent of the consignment earning a WAMMCO Select payment of $466.69. This was equivalent to $5.07 per head for the qualifying lambs, or to $3.09 per head or 14 c/kg over the 151 lambs processed.
“The lambs were the last (before seeding) of about 1,000 delivered from our feedlot for the season, and the result surprised us, because these lambs were a little lighter than those around 50 kg liveweight we normally deliver.” Bruce said last week.
He said the Browning family were third generation sheep farmers, but had moved from all Merinos to Suffolk/Poll Dorset crossbreds about 15 years ago.
He bought his first MPM stock from Vern and John Sattlers’ “Great Southern MPM” at Williams seven years ago and had since been complementing the ram intake from David Thompsons’ “Moojepin MPM” at Katanning.
“We mate 2,200 ewes, 1200 to MPM rams, and 1,000 to SAMMS and are achieving generous lambings and flock self sufficiency without selecting for twins or preg testing. We use lick feeders extensively and all lambing is tailored to begin first week of June, with the lambs being weaned at shearing time in October.
SAMM rams have been sourced from Warren Garlick’s ‘Capolinga’ stud for the past four seasons.
“We have tailored the sheep enterprise to fit easily with a major annual cropping program and it has certainly been paying dividends,” Bruce said. Processing and market Feedback from WAMMCO had played a key role in shaping the lamb enterprise.
“However our average prime lamb returns from the feedlot have dropped from $144 per head in 2010/11 to $118 this season and that decline is causing some anxiety. We are hoping that WAMMCO can maintain around $5 per kg on out of season lambs to keep the feeding-based-on-pellets business viable.
“We have used WAMMCO forward contracts in the past and may need access to them again if the current uncertainty continues.”
Bruce said the MPM flock was self-replacing because of consistent 100 percent plus lambing percentages, - with 112 percent last year. He said the MPM ewes were plain and open faced, growing a profitable wool clip of long stapled, soft, deep crimping wool, as well as performing as large-framed, capable mothers for the SAMM cross lambs.
“Our wool clip averages 19.5 to 20 micron – a bonus with the stabilising wool price. We have won Elders Supreme Clip of the sale award twice now in the past two years.”
Bruce said the only mulesing needed was for Merino wethers onsold to other producers. There were no fly problems on the property with the MPM flocks.
Garrett returned to West End in 2003 after attending Narrogin Agricultural College and Muresk.
He said a series of difficult seasons had confirmed to him the wisdom of maintaining a diversified enterprise.
However weed control, and manipulating sheep pastures to fit in with cropping had resulted in legacies such the lack of feed for livestock after early rains.
This year the Brownings have resown sub clover pasture on about 200 ha and dry seeded some 200 ha of barley to provide early sheep feed after the opening and follow-up rains.
They said 2010 and early 2011 were tough years for livestock and friends at Pingaring, the Stanich’s and Tapscotts, had assisted with agistment to maintain ewe numbers.
Their season is now well under way with excellent rains over the past two weeks boosting both crops and pastures.
“Hopefully it will keep going so that we can back up last year and string a couple of good seasons together for a change,” Bruce said.
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