Keeping an interest in sheep is important for WAMMCO’s March 2009 Producer of the Month, Greg Cake of Gairdner River.
Greg sees his first POM win as confirmation of progress for his prime lamb enterprise since introducing SAMM sires over his big framed, heavy wool cutting Merino ewes. However he has started using Dohne rams from Rex Parsons’ Jerramungup stud, instead of SAMMS to breed more Merino cross mothers.
“We have some SAMM/Merino cross ewes for lamb breeding, but are now looking at the Dohnes to give us a good mother that will also produce higher quality wool,” he said.
“We have been using Canowie Merino rams from local stud breeders Jason and Rod Griffiths for the past 12 years and have reduced our clip from 22 to 20 microns while averaging nearly 7 kg of wool,” he said this week.
“In contrast to the future outlook for lamb, adequate rewards for wool still have a long way to go, but we are staying in there against the local trend away from Merinos,” he said this week.
Greg’s winning consignment of 195 lambs was killed at Katanning on March 24 and averaged 23.49 kg at $4.50/kg to return $105.74 per head, with top animals exceeding $120.
WAMMCO Select premiums on 52 lambs added another $267.82 to the proceeds.
A 100 ha crop of sorghum seeded in November and nurtured by good summer rains, greatly boosted the March lamb turn-off. An earlier consignment of lambs to WAMMCO also averaged $4.50 per head over the scales but came in at slightly lower weights.
About 25 percent of the annual lamb drop is turned off in Spring with heavier lambs going to WAMMCO and lighter lambs to a processor for the local market. This year Greg is mating 1000 ewes to Merino rams, 1600 ewes to SAMM rams from his regular supplier, Simon Cullam of Cullam stud, Jerramungup, and 550 ewes to Dohne rams.
He said the production balance in favour of SAMMs lambs would continue because of their outstanding ability to keep condition without incurring penalties for excess fat.
The Cake family has a long tradition of lamb production with Greg’s father Bob, who now runs a smaller property at Napier, well known for his Merinos, Suffolks and Dorsets. Greg, wife Annette and farmhand Cameron Rosenthal oversee the lamb operation, a 185-breeder, Murray Grey/Angus cattle operation started five years ago, and a Canola-dominant cropping program that takes up just over 50 percent of the Gairdner property.
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