Merinos cause something of an upset

23 Feb, 2005 10:00 PM
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FOR the second time in three years, Suffolk cross lambs have won the $7000 WAMMCO International state carcase competition.

Competition winners Richard and Karen Bessell-Browne, Woodanilling, had traditionally sold their lambs in the Katanning sale yards.

They frequently topped sales, but their winning line of 106 June-drop lambs was the first time they had sold suckers over the hook.

The announcement was an emotional moment for Richard, whose entry was encouraged by WAMMCO booking officer Fiona Clay, who telephoned Richard seeking lambs to fill a cancellation for early December.

³The lambs weren¹t booked until April this year, and if Fiona hadn¹t rang we wouldn¹t have entered,² Richard said.

The win was also a second feather in the cap of local farm adviser Bob O¹Toole, who runs a small unregistered Suffolk flock.

He not only supplied the Bessell-Browne¹s rams but had also bred the sires of 2002 Broomehill winner, David Meyer.

The lambs were part of a 105 per cent lambing from 1180 ewes, joined to mainly Suffolk rams, that resulted in 1225 lambs tailed including 243 Merino lambs.

The winning consignment was drafted out by local Elders branch manager Clark Skinner, and averaged 26.37 kilograms dressed weight.

They had a 2.54 fat score, attracting only 0.16 penalties on the WAMMCO judging grid.

They had been running on a pasture paddock that had been locked up especially for the weaned lambs, had been trail-fed some lupins and fed a poor quality hay in their last few weeks.

Their second entry finished seventh, and another 330 carry over lambs were still running on saltbush and tagasaste until they will be topped off on a feed lot for turn off in winter.

Clark praised the family for consistently producing a highly marketable commodity.

³Richard doesn¹t take chances,² he said.

³He gets it right every time, not only with his crossbred lambs but every time his Merino ewes come into the (sale) yards they are outstanding.²

The lambs were out of Barloo blood Merino ewes, and with 10 of the 52 entries coming from composite bred ewes the Merino caused something of an upset.

The second placegetters were also from Merino ewes, and WAMMCO supply chain co-ordinator Rob Davidson said it showed that first cross ewes were not necessary. Second place went to former Newdegate Landmark agent Ian Quartermaine, who admitted he¹d bought his ewes from the Katanning saleyards.

His 113 lambs were by Ron and Erica Russell¹s Pingamup Creed Coolalee rams from Jerramungup, and had been dropped in February when stubbles were at their best.

³They hit the ground running and didn¹t look back even though it had been an ordinary start to the season,² Ian said.

The lambs were from a 99 per cent lambing and averaged 25.44kg and 2.82 fat score for a total of 0.245 penalties.

They had been running on clover and ryegrass pasture until they were sent for slaughter in August.

Entrants in the competition became the first in WA to receive feed back from the recently installed VIAscan.

The Coolalees had the distinction of having the highest average lean meat yield assessed by VIAscan, although several lines were processed before the technology was installed, and several other lines were not tested because of technical problems.

The lambs were ranked first for leg, loin and shoulder yields, and were one of the few lines to perform consistently across all three sections of the carcase.

They had a 56.805 per cent carcase yield compared with a 54.44 per cent average yield for all lambs scanned.

The lowest yielding line yielded 50.361 per cent.

Third place was filled by last year¹s winner, Burke Perry, Nyabing, with 103 lambs sired by Roy Addis¹s Ashbourne White Suffolks from Nyabing.

The ewes were an East Friesian Merino cross that had produced a 95 per cent lambing.

They weighed 26.1kg with a 2.99 fat score and 0.251 penalties.

The competition attracted 52 entries from 45 entrants who consigned 7401 lambs, weighing on average 23.19kg dressed.

This was down on last year when 9735 lambs were entered in more favourable seasonal conditions and weighed on average 23.3kg.

Rob said it was more evident that producers were picking out lines they considered would do well in the event.

The competition ran from August 2 until December 16, with producers required to enter a minimum of 100 lambs as close as possible to the 26-27kg, fat score two grid target.

Additional information supplied with entries showed that there was a $34/ewe window of opportunity to improved sheep returns, based on improved lambing percentage, and that Merino ewes could be equally as profitable as composite bred ewes.

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