CHANGES to the structure of Australia's leading Damara group are being fueled by the attraction of international prices.
With the world's supply of sheepmeat in decline over the past 10 years, and increasing demand for clean, quality assured sheepmeat products following a series of disease concerns, opportunities in the global market are high.
So high that F1 Damara rams were selling in the Saudi Arabian port city Jeddah during the Haj festival for the equivalent of A$475 - a time of peak demand as millions of Moslems take participate in the pilgrimage to Mecca.
While those returns are obviously far away from the farm gate pricing ruling in Australia, Damara breeders believe there is potential to access greater returns through an orderly marketing structure and effectively quality control and promotion.
The Damara Sheep Company has secured prices for F1 rams currently up to $50 a head, with F1 ewes receiving a minimum of $38 a head. F2 rams are selling for up to $60 a head.
Local production is also on the way up, with between 100,000 and 130,000 F1 and F2 rams to be produced in WA during 2001, and expectations for more than 200,000 head in WA in 2002.
Damara Sheep Company principal Neil Garnett, who has just returned from a trade mission to the Middle East, said the security of supply from Australia, and the local industry's ability to operate effective quality assurance schemes, would be central to increasing grower returns.