Winning WAMMCO’s September 2008 Producer of the Month title was a special highlight for Narembeen producers Jim, Esther and Paul Forrest.
News of their winning draft of 316 Suffolk/Merino cross lambs came through right on top of a crippling frost that destroyed most of the family’s extensive barley and wheat crops at Narembeen, Ongerup and Lake Varley.
“Only the oats appears to have survived,” Jim said last week.
Merino breeders for many years using Woolkabin rams, Jim and son Paul started looking at ways of capitalising on the crossbred lamb market about three years ago.
“We were finding it difficult to get merino lambs up to the premium weights and Paul started using Suffolk rams from Lindsay Marsh at Karlgarin and Peter Walker at Newdegate over our larger framed merino ewes.
“Last year, with many of our paddocks blowing away, we tried feedlotting several groups of crossbred lambs using various mixes, but the teeth appeared as the lambs reached their weight targets.
“This year the lambs went straight off excellent pastures after a good start to the season, and averaged 23.78 kg over the draft of 316.”
The Forrests have already mated some of their ewes for next season lambs and expect to graze areas of failed crop.
“The lambs will be ready if we get an early break, and if not we will probably feedlot them on pellets to get them into WAMMCO’s premium grades.”
Average price for the 316 lambs in the winning draft was $86.80, including $3.08 for the skin.
67.6 percent of the lambs reached the premium 22.1-28 kg fat score 2 and 3 grade, with individual lambs valued at 3.70 per kg to return up to $106.19 per head.
Jim said the family had joined as members of WAMMCO and would continue to take an interest in the operations of the cooperative, particularly in contracts for feedlotting lambs.
This year’s cropping program had involved moving plant on a 500 km round trip between Narembeen and Ongerup. Crops were just beginning to show the benefit of a 20 mm plus rainfall when severe frosts hit the region.
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