NEWLY elected Stud Merino Breeders' Association of WA (SMBAWA) president Steven Bolt, Claypans stud, Corrigin, believes there is plenty of money to be made from Merino lambs, with an increased number of marketing options available.
Mr Bolt said there were plenty of options out there for producers when it comes to selling Merino lambs, if they are prepared properly.
"If prepared correctly, there are good returns to be made for Merino lambs when you factor in both the wool and meat income," Mr Bolt said.
Mr Bolt and his family sent a consignment of 320 April-drop Merino lambs from their Corrigin feedlot to WAMMCO International, Katanning, last week and were certainly rewarded.
The consignment included a line of 130 ewe lambs which were one of two entries received by WAMMCO International last week for the new Merino lamb carcase competition, the Merino Lamb Muster, that was launched at the recent Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama.
The line entered by the Bolts achieved a dressed weight of 24.4 kilogram and at 500 cents/kg dressed, returned $122 a head.
The Merino Lamb Muster carcase competition, which is being sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), WAMMCO International and and SMBAWA, carries $12,000 in prize money.
The competition is open for Merino lambs (rams, wethers and ewes) delivered to WAMMCO International at Katanning between March 9 and June 25.
Mr Bolt said his family had been finishing surplus Merino lambs in feedlots for about 25 years and had been delivering about 800 lambs a year to WAMMCO for the past few years.
"There is increasing concern that rising global demand for mutton and lamb is already outpacing Australia's capacity to supply and I can see the dual purpose role of Merinos offering substantial future reward for those prepared to make or increase the investment," Mr Bolt said.
"Our draft last week of 320 Merino lambs to WAMMCO illustrated the excellent value of their meat carcase to a sheep enterprise.
"We would probably have averaged about $75 a head for these lambs in the saleyard before Christmas.
"Instead they added 10kg or more in the feedlot with about 3kg of wool per head paying for their time on feed.
"The advantage of the Merinos when fed is the wool production and this can account for the feeding costs.
"They went to Katanning in excellent condition and the 320 ewe and ram lambs averaged $115 a head."
This was the Bolt's second draft of 2014-drop lambs to go over the hooks at WAMMCO.
In October they averaged $96 a head for a draft of 400 wether, ram and ewe lambs, straight off grass.
He said demand for Merino rams in WA had improved steadily over the past two years, with some producers consolidating and others increasing their flock sizes.
"The increase in genetic interest had extended to meat and fertility characteristics because producers are weighing up the value of sustained higher values for lamb," he said.
"The Merino ewe continues to represent a big section of the WA sheep flock and it will continue to play a major role in returning sheep production to more sustainable future levels.
"As Merino breeders, we have certainly found that we can produce easy care characteristics with better fertility and meat values in our sheep with minimal impact on wool production.
"It is pleasing to see AWI and WAMMCO joining with us (SMBAWA) to promote the dual purpose versatility of Merinos in this new Merino carcase competition and I would encourage both commercial and stud breeders to support the competition, given the returns that can be achieved by Merino lambs."