The boost in wool prices and a boyuant lamb and shipper market are rewarding Gnowangerup producer Gavin Lamont’s long term family reliance on Merinos and Poll Dorsets.
Gavin’s family were WAMMCO’s Producers of the Month for November 2017, with 96.4 percent of a line of 137 lambs attracting the cooperative’s performance premium. His lambs were processed at Katanning on November 3 and were lighter than usual at 20.81kg. Even so, they averaged $114.32 per head including skins.
Like many of his neighbours in the generally reliable sheep belt between Tambellup and Gnowangerup, Gavin crops a relatively small percentage of his family’s 850 hectare property and relies heavily on his wool, lamb and shipper income to complement uncertain grain prices.
“Our last two wool clips scored prices for our business and together with high returns for shipping wethers, took much of the pressure off us, whilst WAMMCO has continued to deliver good lamb returns in a very difficult season,” Gavin said.
“The season stopped short in May during one of our best-ever lambings and we have been hand feeding since the start of November. We purchased lupins and pellets to mix with our oats to supplement the lack of stubbles and pasture.
“We aim to drop our lambs in April/May and to turn them off as suckers from September to reduce sheep numbers over summer. This year, we still have about 50 lambs to go, probably early in the new year.
Gavin and his father Terry who continues to live and help on the property, started a Poll Dorset stud in 1992 and supplied regular local clients before Gavin sold the genetics to Collyn Garnett’s Curlew Creek stud at Gnowangerup in 2009.
Merino bloodlines were originally purchased from Glenroy and Pallinup studs before a move to Collyn Garnett’s Willemenup stud 10 years ago.
A breeding flock of around 1,000 Willemenup ewes is equally divided for mating to Willemenup Merino and Curlew Creek Poll Dorset rams.
“The Willemenup ewes are big framed and have seen our lambing percentage increase from around 90 percent to well over 100 percent. The Merino ewes are averaging about 7 kg of 20.5 micron wool per head and we have been keeping wether Merino lambs through to two and a half years for sale as shippers after their third shearing. This year the shipper market returned $125 per head.”
Gavin selects both his Merino and Poll Dorset rams each year and does his own classing. He calls in local Landmark stock agent Mike Moore to help with weighing selecting, marketing and booking sale lambs before delivering lambs to Katanning himself.
Both he and Mike agree that WAMMCO not only continues to innovate and underwrite the lamb and mutton industry, it also offers significant freight and other advantages to local lamb producers. A steady improvement in the cooperative’s skin prices was another welcome advance.
‘The highly successful development of the north American market for our heavy lambs is one of WAMMCO’s most significant achievements and it is unfortunate that more producers are not returning as prime lamb producers to share and support this market,” Gavin said.
He also applauded WAMMCO’s lead in backing the Sheepmeats Council survey on dentition and had supported the call for change by completing the survey.
“New Zealand producers have enjoyed the advantage of a more flexible dentition system for many years and I can see benefits for Australian lamb producers particularly when seasonal conditions are tough.”
Gavin and his wife Tania have two sons Scott 16 and Matthew 12 and are supporting daughter Rachel (19) who is one year through a dual animal science/health degree at Murdoch university. Scott is at Denmark Agricultural college and Matthew will leave Gnowangerup for Great Southern Grammar in 2018.
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