WINNING the WA Meat Marketing Co-operative’s (WAMMCO) Producer of the Month award for December, 2017, has capped another productive season for Brendon Tyrell and his family of Mt Ridley near Esperance.
A pioneer farming family of the Esperance region, Brendon, wife Ros, father Greg and partner Bev Hosking featured in the WAMMCO State Prime Lamb Carcase Competitions of 2011/12 and 2012/13 and were WAMMCO’s Producers of the month for January 2013, and September, 2015.
They won the 2017 December title with a line of 205 Prime SAMM-White Suffolk-Merino lambs processed at Katanning on December 20.
The line averaged 21.21 kilograms and returned $126.81 a head with 96.1 per cent of the lambs achieving premium status.
Brendon said 2017 was a year of unbelievable lamb prices.
“Mixed drafts containing older, heavier lambs sent to WAMMCO in August and September returned up to $190 a head with one line averaging more than $150 a head,” Brendon said.
“Returns like that are excellent for those of us already in the game, but make investment difficult for newcomers or those wishing to return to sheep.
“We are still one of relatively few sheep producers within 50km of here.”
The Tyrells have increased their breeding flock marginally this year to 1300 ewes with 300 mated to Kolindale Merino rams, 700 joined in mid-October to Prime SAMM rams from Sandy and Alan Forbes’ Royston stud, Napier, and 300 mated to White Suffolks from the Ditchburn family’s Golden Hill stud, Kukerin.
The prime lamb flock is self-supporting with second and third-cross ewes retained each year, achieving more than 100pc lambing.
The enterprise is a balance of 2600 hectares to crop, with 800ha for sheep and prime lambs.
The family company, Swandale Investments, switched from Merinos to Prime SAMMs in 2003 with purchases from a dispersal sale of Esperance Rural Properties, and later from the Quinlivan family’s Quintarra stud and other Prime SAMM studs.
White Suffolks were added to the breeding mix in 2012.
Grandfather, John Tyrell originally took up land to the east of Esperance in the 1950s and in those days was regularly forced to drench his sheep to beat barber’s pole worm.
Greg Tyrell purchased virgin Mallee land at Mt Ridley in 1980, clearing it, and quickly adjusting to the lighter rainfall.
“Despite some costly frost damage in 2016, the 2017 season has been excellent, with only a hail storm in mid-November and marauding wedge tail eagles posing probably the most serious menace to the sheep/lamb operation,” Brendon said.
Primaries Esperance/Salmon Gums livestock agent Barry Hutcheson has continued to assist with the management and marketing of Swandale lambs, mainly to WAMMCO.
“We follow developments at WAMMCO with keen interest and are impressed with the progress they are making to keep us competitive,” Brendon said.
“The recent sale of the local Shark Lake abattoir and its pending reopening will also be of interest to local producers.”
Greg continues to play an active role in both the Merino and prime lambs operations, assisted by Bev, who came to the Esperance region from South Australia in the mid 1970s.