Prime SAMM lambs up and running

Prime SAMM lambs up and running


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Graydon Bond has been in Quairading for his entire life, on the family farm settled by his great-grandfather, but the Prime SAMMs have only been in the picture for a decade.

PRIME SAMM genetics play a significant role in the Bond Bros sheep operation, south of Quairading.

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Graydon Bond has been in Quairading for his entire life, on the family farm settled by his great-grandfather, but the Prime SAMMs have only been in the picture for a decade.

Quairading producer Graydon Bond knows his Prime SAMM-Merino cross lambs start growing as soon as they hit the ground.

Quairading producer Graydon Bond knows his Prime SAMM-Merino cross lambs start growing as soon as they hit the ground.

But that hasn't stopped the Prime SAMM breed from proving its worth within the broader sheep business as a tool to get quick growing lambs off to market early.

"We quite like what the SAMMs do for our business," Graydon said.

"We always put a SAMM over our maiden ewes because we find they drop small lambs which means it's an easy first lambing experience for the maidens.

"But with that said, the Prime SAMM lambs might be small when they hit the ground but growth-wise they go gangbusters pretty quickly."

The Bond family started down the Prime SAMM path about 10 years ago, looking for a change in their terminal sire breed.

"We had been using Poll Dorsets prior to that but we found they went to wool a bit too much," Graydon said.

"When it got tough and in dry conditions, we noticed they were putting on wool instead of meat which is what we were chasing.

"In comparison, we find the SAMMs are a bit more hardy and can handle the drier conditions much better, so we've stuck with them and we've been really happy with them since making the move.

"These days we have a total of about 2400 Merino ewes and 1200 of those are mated to Prime SAMM rams, with the rest mated back to Merinos."

The first of the rams go in with the ewes in late-October with lambing getting underway in early April and it's the Prime SAMM lambs which hit the ground first, a month before the beginning of the purebred Merino drop.

"We know that the SAMM cross lambs can handle tougher conditions better than the pure Merinos, so that's one of the reasons we join them first," Graydon said.

"But we also like staggering the lambing and hopefully getting the Merinos dropped onto a bit of green pick when the season permits."

Comparing the difference in the paddock, though the crossbred lambs are a month older than the Merinos, it's clear those with the SAMM influence start growing and filling out quickly.

"That growing ability is certainly the big positive for the SAMMs," Graydon said.

"They're hardy little lambs, they do well even if they're dropped in dry conditions and they hit the ground running.

"We'll be sticking with the SAMM breed into the future for sure."

When it comes to marketing the crossbred lambs, Graydon said the family leaves it in the hands of their stock agent to help find the most suitable market to sell into.

"We don't tend to hold onto the SAMM lambs for very long because they grow out pretty quickly," Graydon said.

"It's usually the Merino lambs we're holding onto for the longest.

"We try to get an extra wool clip off the Merino wethers as well before we sell them but the SAMMs, as soon as they're right to go we'll be calling in the stockie."

The lambs are typically marketed by their stock agent direct to processors such as WAMMCO.

"We don't often send lambs to Muchea or Katanning, usually only if there are some leftovers at the end of the season," Graydon said.

"The size and number of drafts depends on the year obviously but in the past few years we've been lucky to send some really big first drafts which makes the effort worthwhile, seeing the truck pull in and leave the place fully loaded."

That's what it's all about for Graydon, who said the focus for the Prime SAMM side of the business isn't about wool.

"We don't shear the lambs unless they're going to be held over for some reason," he said.

"We're not in it for the wool – we're just chasing nice, big sheep which are going to get up and away quickly after they're born because we don't want to hang onto them for longer than we need to.

"We've seen good results from the sales of our crossbred lambs, so the SAMMs have worked well for us."

Lambing percentages, according to Graydon, are up about the 90-100 per cent range which he is satisfied with.

"The maidens are always a bit lower, but that's to be expected," he said.

"This year the percentages don't look too bad even though it's been quite tough, so we're happy with how they're going."

Rams for the Merino side of things have been bought in from Lewisdale stud, Wickepin, for many years with a focus on quality wools, while Prime SAMMs are sourced from nearby neighbour the Squiers family, Shirlee Downs stud, Quairading.

"When we're picking out our rams, I'm looking for a big sheep generally and Sascha (Squiers) helps me pick out the right SAMMs," Graydon said.

"I look at some of the figures, in particular the growth rates, because we like to continue targeting something that's going to grow quickly.

"That way we can move them on pretty quick and have that fast turn around from lambing to selling."

The sheep fit into the broader enterprise breakdown as 35pc of the overall set up and the rest of the business is tied to the cropping program, which Graydon says is a good balance for now.

"I have wondered if going all crop would be easier but at the moment the sheep industry is pretty strong, so we'll be persevering with sheep for a while longer yet," he said.

"There's probably more people getting out of sheep than getting back in because it's so expensive to start back up again, so I think if prices can stay up, that's our incentive to stick with them.

"I heard about the prices at Muchea and Katanning recently – they've been amazing and I've been keeping an eye on the prices over east too – which are insane.

"It really goes to show the east doesn't rely on live export as much as we do over here, because their domestic market is so large.

"But with sheep prices over here where they're at and the wool market bringing in good returns, it's making the efforts worth it."

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