THE 2013-14 WAMMCO International State Prime Lamb Carcase Competition has been won by the Cronin family from Dumbleyung in an extremely close contest.
Terry and Lynn Cronin, their son Dale and wife Suzanne, beat Lake Grace farmers Ross and Pauline Taylor by a mere three points to take out Australia's biggest, richest and most prestigious carcase event.
The Cronin's Bunkin Farming Enterprises scored 2763.60 points ahead of Mr Taylor's 2760.43 points for a line of 104 pure Prime SAMM lambs delivered in late summer.
It was one of six entries nominated by Bunkin Farming and all had been from a July drop of Rockdale blood lambs that had been weaned and carried over the summer on stubble and finished on oats and Milne Feeds Easy-One pellets and lick.
In a commendable effort, four of Bunkin's entries finished in the money.
The winning line averaged 23.65 kilograms carcase weight with a 2.4 fat score (FS), and 97.1 per cent of the consignment gained carcase bonus points for meat yield (CBP).
The competition has been running 11 years and although it was Bunkin Farming Enterprises first win, the proven formula of Prime SAMM bloodlines again dominated the top positions in nearly every section of the competition.
This year's event carried more than $25,000 in cash and prizes and attracted 35,714 lambs from 111 producers - making it the third biggest in its history.
WAMMCO's supply development officer Rob Davidson said the quality of the lambs made the competition stand out this year.
The event used the same weight, fat score and lean meat yield grid as in previous years allowing producers and organisers to compare lambs across seasons.
Mr Davidson said in this year's overall results the top 26 lines would have finished in last year's top 10 and the top eight in this year's event scored more than last year's winner.
He said the event had jumped to a new level and he encouraged producers not to be disheartened if they didn't finish in this year's top 10.
The broad spread of prizes gave the top five placegetters a share of the rewards.
The event attracted lambs from across WA, including Mingenew, Beacon, a huge number from Mt Barker (courtesy of encouragement from Landmark local agent Charlie Staite), Manjimup and Esperance.
Overall the 35,714 lambs averaged 22.74kg with a 3.02 FS and gained an average 1829 CBP for VIAscan lean meat yield.
Across the field VIAscan yields ranged between 43pc and 53pc to give an average 49.03pc yield.
Mr Davidson emphasised the need for large lean lambs saying fat greatly reduced yields and the difference between two lambs both weighing 22.75kg but with meat yields of 51.5pc and 46.25pc was 1.1kg of saleable meat.
While all categories were completely dominated by Prime SAMM bloodlines Roger Hill and daughter Tanya and her partner Rod Locke, Tanalan Texel stud, Esperance, shone with a draft of 154 Texel-Merino/Corriedale/Texel lambs weighing 20.96kg that won the tradeweight section.
The line had a 2.18 FS and 88.31pc CBP to gain a final 2257.23 points score.
The lambs were a June-July drop and had been weaned for about a month before they were trucked for slaughter in December.
The Hill family finished ahead of Graham, Chris, Wayne and Marie-Claire Barrett, Jerramungup.
The tradeweight category attracted 22 consignments totalling 8208 lambs with a 20.4kg average carcase weight and 2.55FS and average 1722 bonus points.
The over 300-head category was a growth area of the competition with 28 entries received, compared with 17 last year and half of those would have finished in last year's top 10.
The section averaged 22.6kg with a 2.98FS and 1825 bonus points.
The biggest entry was 1600 head but it was a line of 300 pure Prime SAMM lambs from Todd Quinlivan, Esperance, that won.
The line averaged 25.22kg with a 2.93 FS and 94pc achieved CBP to give a 2708.36 final score and third place in the overall rankings.
The final category, initiated last year, and reflecting the majority of the State's prime lamb producing systems, was for lambs bred from Merino ewes.
Mr Davidson said the top 20 entries scored enough points to be in last year's top 10.
This was won by one of three drafts entered by Barry Kowald and sons Sheldon and Trent, Capemont Farms, Katanning.
Their 114 Prime SAMM-Merino cross lambs weighed 24.18kg with a 3.08 FS and 92.98pc earned CBP to give a final 2602.11 score.
Like many of the contestants, the Kowald family has been a successful long-term supporter of the competition and has had an even longer relationship with their Merino ram supplier Willemenup stud.
They used Rockdale sires and their successful entry had been paddock finished and January delivered.
Another of the Kowald's entries, comprising 108-head, was second in the same category.
Averages for lambs from Merino dams stood at 23.07kg, 3.0FS and 1829 bonus points.
Other interesting statistics showed 89pc of entrants used either Poll Dorset, Prime SAMM, White Suffolk or Suffolk sires but other breeds represented were Dorper, Coolalee, Greeline, South Suffolk, Texel, Dohne and Ile de France.
Based on performance Mr Davidson singled out Duranillin producers Rob and Danni Hewton's first ever entry of Ile de France cross lambs, saying they were a breed to watch after gaining eighth spot in the lambs from Merino ewes category.
On the ewe side, 86pc of breeders used Merino (40pc), Prime SAMMs, Prolific or Border Leicester but other maternal lines represented were Dorper, Greeline, Dohne, Poll Dorset, Prime SAMM-East Friesian cross, Corriedale, Kelso and Texel.
Other data showed there was a difference of 60pc in the range of lamb marking with a low of 80pc compared with 140pc for the highest, giving an 108pc average for all entrants.
Breaking it down further, 41pc of Merino dams achieved a lamb marking rate of more than 100pc compared with 93pc of non pure Merino dams that averaged more than 100pc.