BIGGER, plainer ewes of the Rambouillet sheep breed from France, have been used in a successful Poll Dorset/Merino crossbreeding programme since 1994 by WAMMCO's November Producer of the Month, Haydn Beeck of 'Grand View' Katanning.
Haydn won WAMMCO's November award with a line of 110 crossbred lambs that weighed an average of 25.5kg and were priced mainly in the $3.10p/kg premium price category to return an average of $78.07.
Worried that the abundant season would push fat scores too high, Haydn followed the advice of WAMMCO supply development manager Rob Davidson by weaning lambs off their mothers earlier than usual.
"They were weaned about five weeks before delivery to the Katanning plant on November 17, and most of them came in at score 2-3 with a few going into the fat score 4 category," Haydn said.
Haydn mates about 3000 ewes each year, maintaining a ratio of about 1200 ewes for prime lamb production.
These are Merino/Rambouillet cross ewes using rams from Jim West's Rambouillet stud at Wagin.
"We had been producing crossbred lambs since the 1960's but began to look around for plainer, bigger animals in the mid 1990's in response to changing demands," Haydn said.
"The larger frame, plainer body of the Rambouillet appealed as a Merino cross ewe base and has worked well with Poll Dorset sires."
Haydn was expecting to deliver further consignments of lambs to WAMMCO before the Katanning plant closed for maintenance on December 16.
He would offer further consignments from January to March, running these lambs on pasture stubbles with self feeders in the paddock.
He said he had delivered lambs to WAMMCO for a number of years, but became a shareholder only recently, just in time to benefit from the cooperative's first rebate.
He regarded the location of the 'Grand View' property, 12km from the Katanning plant, and Fiona Clay's assistance with lamb bookings as further bonuses.