BADGEBUP farmer Nathan Garlick and his family have been recognised for their innovative attitude to prime lamb production.
Nathan, his wife Trina and boys Brock, Saxon and Bronte, farm at Beninu Farm near Coyrecup Lake, just south of Katanning and were the winners of WAMMCO's Producer of the Month title for April, their first win since May 2010.
"It's always pleasing to find young WA farmers holding a positive attitude to their livestock, and the Garlick family is a great example," WAMMCO chairman Dawson Bradford said.
"Their Prime SAMM prime lamb enterprise accounts for only five per cent of their farming business, but they are making sure that it grows in line with their farm holding, which has increased dramatically over the past five years.
"They have integrated their lamb business extremely well with a major cropping program; they believe in quality, minimising costs and ease of management and are valued suppliers of the premium, heavier lamb types WAMMCO sells to the United States."
The winning consignment had 252 lambs weighing an average of 22.72 kilograms and was processed at WAMMCO Katanning on April 15.
It returned an average of $122.35 a head including skins, with heavier animals paying up to $153.10
Mr Garlick said he began switching from Merinos for wool production to prime lamb when he took over the family property about 10 years ago.
The legacy of big-framed ewes - from years of using Nepowie Merino bloodlines - provided a flying start with the initial drafts of Prime SAMM rams he obtained from neighbouring Gracefield stud breeder Rocco de Bellis.
These pure Prime SAMM ewes have been underwriting progress in the flock for the past four years with all ewe lambs being retained for breeding.
Another 280 June 2014 drop ewe lambs, sisters of the winning WAMMCO consignment, will join the 800 strong breeding flock in time for the 2015 mating.
Most of the lamb breeding is centred at Avonlea, a 1250 hectare property purchased five years ago, and the aim is to build the Prime SAMM ewe flock to 1500 or more.
A seeding of Cadiz and Crimson clover took off with the excellent season last year to provide a substantial supplement to the stubbles for both lambs and ewes, while a decision to convert 160 big bales of hay on the newest property to silage early in the season added a further bonus and safeguard.
"We are lucky because we always have an abundance of stubbles for the stock, and because Katanning is close, we have virtually no freight costs," Mr Garlick said.
"We have used WAMMCO contracts, mainly to secure our bookings, but normally consign the lambs straight from the paddocks when they are ready.
"The US market for heavier lambs has been good to us, we have been close followers of WAMMCO Select and the processing data we receive, and we have welcomed WAMMCO's producer rebates in the better trading years."
Mr Garlick believes that WAMMCO should consider identifying and promoting its brand of superior lamb on the domestic market, particularly as Australia's supermarket war escalated.
He said WAMMCO's local promotion should advise consumers to cook their lamb roasts "for four hours at 180 degrees - to get the most from them".