AN Elders field day at Northampton gave producers an opportunity to hear the latest in prime lamb and live export opportunities.
Topics included grass seed damage to carcases and skins, lamb and live sheep export forward contracts, the domestic trade, market expectations and animal nutrition and vaccination programs.
Elders Northampton territory sales manager Adam Bradley said farmers at the field day were most interested in animal health issues, with particular interest shown in arthritis and the damage grass seed caused to carcases and skins.
Kevin Tangney, representing Coles, said grass seed damage could be minimised by either spray topping paddocks or shearing sucker lambs before grass seed became a problem.
He said these strategies could reduce damage to carcase and skins by 90-95pc.
Mr Tangney said he took a grass seed damaged carcase and skins with him to the field day.
"I think a few of the blokes were absolutely shocked to see what damage grass seed does to a carcase," he said.
He said Coles bought lambs weighing 16-22kg dressed weight (36-46kg liveweight) with score 2-3 and the odd score 4.
Mr Tangney said strong competition for lamb would ensure there was a good year ahead for lamb producers.
"I do not believe lamb prices are going to come back dramatically this year," he said.
CSL Animal Health business manager Mike Danby outlined the impacts of cheesy gland and arthritis in sheep.
He said cheesy gland was prevalent in 30pc of the WA flock which cost the state $15m in lost wool production, $10m in inspectors' costs and $4m in carcase trimming and condemned carcases.
Mr Danby said that if a vaccination program was correctly carried out it could reduce the problem to 1-3pc, whereas there could still be 29pc cheesy gland prevalence if a vaccination program wasn't properly carried out.
He said cheesy gland was caused by bacteria transferred from the soil and was often spread to lambs during marking and mulesing.
Mr Danby said arthritis was also caused by bacteria and could also be reduced through vaccination.
He said it was worth vaccinating lambs when they were worth more than $60 and more than 1pc of the flock was affected with arthritis.
Other speakers on the day included WAMMCO International livestock manager Peter Krupa who spoke about forward contracting, market expectations and prospects for the upcoming season.
Elders live sheep export manager Tim Spicer covered live export destinations and their requirements and forward contracts.
Mr Bradley said day had been a big success and could become an annual event.