Damara day with flavoursome ending

03 Apr, 2010 01:00 AM
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 The group of speakers at the Damara information day at Pemberton last weekend included Adrian Veitch (left), Narrogin, WA Premier Colin Barnett, Wellard Rural Exports managing director Steve Meerwald, FarmWorks livestock manager Preston Clarke, The Sheep Company principal Neil Garnett, Wellard Rural Exports general manager of livestock trading, Garry Robinson, and hosts of the day, Malcolm and Ly
The group of speakers at the Damara information day at Pemberton last weekend included Adrian Veitch (left), Narrogin, WA Premier Colin Barnett, Wellard Rural Exports managing director Steve Meerwald, FarmWorks livestock manager Preston Clarke, The Sheep Company principal Neil Garnett, Wellard Rural Exports general manager of livestock trading, Garry Robinson, and hosts of the day, Malcolm and Ly

IF the potential profit and reduced labour input of running Damara sheep was not sufficient to convince those attending the Damara sheep information day of the benefits of this breed, the barbecued lamb at the conclusion would have done so.

Succulent and flavoursome, most of the 60 people attending lined up for a second serve, attesting to the suitability of the product.

With a mix of farm vehicles as well as BMW and Audi's in the car park at Pemberton on Saturday, it was apparent the day had appeal for farmers looking for a new profitable venture as well as those looking for something different to fuel their farming aspirations.

Visitors were welcomed by Malcolm and Lyn Weir, Edengate Farms, with Mr Weir speaking of the ease of management they had found with the 1600 Damara sheep they run on the property.

Neil Garnett, The Sheep Company, outlined the history of the breed in WA, when he and Adrian Veitch, Narrogin, brought embryos collected in Africa by Adrian.

"As I was previously prominent in the wool industry, many said I was a traitor to the sheep industry, but I believe I was years ahead of them," Mr Garnett said.

"The climate here is so suitable for Damaras and with their easy care of no shearing, crutching, mulesing and other labour intensive husbandry required, increasing profitability over traditional breeds."

Mr Garnett said in 18 years he had never seen a Damara ewe fly blown, just the odd ram because of horn damage.

The breed originated in east Asia, moving to Africa, with the Damara having been developed by natural selection of nature over thousands of years.

"And nature has done a far better job than we humans could ever do," Mr Garnett said.

This may be so, but Mr Garnett and Mr Veitch had to take some credit as through performance recording they had increased weight and growth by about 30 per cent compared with the original embryos imported.

Mr Veitch spent two years in Africa collecting the breeding genetics, although his entire time was not spent working.

"I married a South African girl so something else good came out of the country," Mr Veitch said.

The shift from high to low maintenance and heading away from too much technology was the consortium's aim.

"Like anything, do it properly and profitability will follow," Mr Veitch said.

While not wanting to appear too smug, Mr Veitch related the ridicule he originally received from neighbours.

"But now I am selling them rams," he said.

Not many industries can claim having such a high profile participant as the Damara breed, with WA Premier Colin Barnett, in attendance and outlining his involvement with the sheep.

"I bought my wife Lyn 100 Damara ewes for her birthday, which did not go down very well at the time," Mr Barnett said.

Now the Barnett family are united in their love for the breed and suitability for their small property at Toodyay.

"If I can run them successfully, anyone can," Mr Barnett said.

Wellard Rural Exports managing director Steve Meerwald outlined the company's live shipping protocols, with one million sheep and 350,000 cattle shipped this past season, with 75pc of these from WA.

The advantage for Wellard with the Damara breed is that the buying countries view them as local sheep.

"If we can have a percentage of Damara in the shipment we can use it as an inducement to the buyer to take the shipment of mixed breeds," Mr Meerwald said.

Growth in red meat consumption is currently 1.7pc, matching population increases.

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