Mingenew Poll Dorset breeders Peter and Belinda Horwood are the first producers north of Perth to win the coveted WAMMCO Member of the Month award for June.
The Horwoods, of Horwood Lockier River Farm, top scored with a June 7 draft of 256 Poll Dorset/AMS Merino cross lambs that weighed an average of 26.63 kg with a return from WAMMCO of $3.24 per kg.
Peter said they had moved their traditional lamb enterprise away from sucker production to align more closely to higher pasture growth and price curves over the past few years.
They are now mating their ewes in January for June lambing, capitalising on better lambing percentages and weight gains from more advanced pastures, whilst ensuring that there are no problems with teeth eruption.
Peter crops 70-80 percent of the property using a legume rotation and manages his clover-based pastures by grazing animals in smaller groups to ensure maximum productivity.
Just under 1,000 hectares of lupin stubble with a supplement of oats and lupins provides the ideal finishing base over the summer for his annual turn-off of 1600-1800 lambs.
“Mingenew is WA’s premier lupin producing region and lupin stubbles are an excellent medium for prime lamb production,” he said.
With well over half of the property’s annual rainfall of 420 mm already recorded, the Horwoods say the season has been ‘better than copybook.”
Peter’s interest in weather and pastures has been heightened since he became a producer representative on the MLA’s Rainfall to Pasture Growth Outlook Tool which is aiming to link rainfall and soil moisture to pasture growth in southern Australia. The study, which aims to improve the accuracy of forecasting for producers, has found that they are generally utilising only 25 percent of their pastures.
He began ‘getting dinkum’ about prime lamb profuction about eight years ago when he adopted LAMBPLAN as the measure for sires from his Lockier River Poll Dorset stud.
"We would not be achieving the weights we are at present without Lambplan and there is great scope for further improvement, particularly now that WAMMCO is providing VIASCAN data to record lean meat yield.
“This technology is a major breakthrough because I believe we still have a long way to go to achieve optimum muscling.”
Peter has also started a selection programme within the stud to identify animals with superior resistance to worms.
"We noticed about five years ago that the progeny of certain sires don’t seem to get worms, and because I’d rather be sitting on the beach than drenching sheep, we began to formally identify the trait.
“The bonus is that lambs from these sires are also showing higher growth rates.”
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