TAMBELLUP producers Ben and Tracey Lamont are on a lengthening list of WA farmers relying on a quality flock of Merino breeding ewes to generate good returns from their 20 micron wool, and a solid annual income from prime crossbred lambs.
The Lamont family won WAMMCO’s Producer of the Month title for June 2018 with a line of 144 Poll Dorset-Merino lambs that averaged 20.95 kilograms to return $129.12 per head including skin with 97.2 per cent of the lambs falling into WAMMCO’s premium value category.
“The lambs went to WAMMCO earlier than usual because of a tight start to the season,” Ben said.
“They were in good condition but lighter than normal with 70 per cent recording fat score two and 30pc with fat score three.
“We were using Poll Dorset rams for crossbreeding before I took over the property from my father Robbie Lamont in the late 1990s because of their proven ability to gain weight faster so you could turn them off earlier.
“Four hundred of our current breeding flock of Merino ewes were mated to Poll Dorset rams from the Curlew Creek stud this season with a further 1000 ewes mated to Merino rams.
“Other producers have moved to introduce prime lamb genetics into their breeding flocks but we have found our Poll Dorset-Merino cross returns satisfactory, while also enabling us to concentrate on improving wool quality within the pure Merino ewe flock.”
Annual shearing was moved back from August to July many years ago to enable ewes to better mother their lambs, increasing lambing percentages.
Ben said the mating program aimed to have ewes lambing at the end of July to early August.
Older ewes are mated to Poll Dorset rams to lamb in April for sale as suckers in September.
These ewes have also been returning good dividends from sales towards the end of their breeding cycle.
Seventeen year-old son Brendan was home from WA College of Agriculture Narrogin last week, drilling oats into existing clover paddocks to boost green feed supplies later in the year.
The operation aims to seed around 100 hectares of oats per year.
Brendan agrees that a farming ratio of 70pc livestock to 30pc cropping had evolved as their best option.
This is because of the solid profits available from lamb and wool and the added flexibility they have for managing the property compared to high cropping input costs with diminishing returns.
Their daughter Stephanie was also home on leave from Albany’s Great Southern Grammar last week.
Ben said both himself and his father Robbie had used extensive soil testing as a basis for farming and developing the property.
A visit to WAMMCO after the current plant upgrade would be a pre-requisite for Brendan to see a future line of their lambs processed.