A transition that has seen about half of a 6000 ewe flock switched over the past few years from wool to prime lambs for processing and live export, is set to continue for WAMMCO’s Producer of the Month winners for December 2008, Richard and David Turner of “Tone Park”, Tone Bridge in the Shire of Boyup Brook.
Richard said last week that the decline of the wool industry was a major factor in the loss of about 60 percent of the farms in his area to bluegums, - at enormous cost to the community and local infrastructure. He and wife Helen are critical of the tax incentives available to foresters but not to farmers. “We see the prime lamb and live sheep export markets as the salvation of the sheep industry, with wool virtually becoming a by-product,” he said.
“Tone Park” is at the Manjimup ‘end’ of the Boyup shire and has enjoyed its best rainfall season for 30 years. The area also enjoys a late finish and the Turners are capitalising on perennials to deliver more and more lambs each year straight off the grass. “Our rainfall average is around 700 mm and we were well above that last year,” Richard said. “It was also a terrible season for flystrike, with the protection of our normal jetting in September/October being seriously diluted by the late rains.”
The Turners drop lambs in June/July and sell most off by Christmas each year. A small percentage of lambs may go onto pellets for later delivery. They appreciate the competition and feedback WAMMCO provides for their lambs but have previously exported lambs for processing to South Australia and prepared long tail lambs for live export. They used WAMMCO contracts four year ago, but prefer to keep their options open.
David, an ex-Denmark Agricultural College achiever, and his wife Kate manage a small Poll Dorset stud on the property, using rams from Hillcroft stud at Narrogin to breed rams for the lamb enterprise with a selection of rams for sale on-farm or at the Dinninup ram sale each October.
The Turners will be watching the introduction by WAMMCO of Viascan-related payments in February/March, and may consider increasing the percentage of crossbred ewes in their breeding flock to improve the processing performance of their lambs.
Their winning draft consisted of 716 lambs processed at Katanning on December 15. The lambs had an average carcase weight of 22.68 kg and realised an average of $3.98 per kg on WAMMCO’s daily schedule to return an average per head of $89.34. Most of the lambs were shorn in October to reduce flystrike, and the skins were classed ncv. There were 181 lambs that attracted a top payment of $4.20 per kg, pushing the value of the best individual lambs in the draft as high as $131.25 per head.
Further details: Geoff Gare 953 77669 or Richard Turner 976 91035
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