THE race to become WAMMCO's Producer of the Month for September 2019 was ultra-close in more ways than one.
Second placegetters Brian and Elle Bowey not only farm at Kulin, close to September winners Jeremy and Jenny James, Hyden, but 98.32 per cent of their 179 lambs processed at Katanning on September 12, hit WAMMCO's top criteria, just 0.4pc less than the winner.
Their second placed consignment averaged 22.27 kilograms to return $151.06 per head.
The Bowey family, father Alan and sons Brian and John, have been keen followers of the Bradford family's Hillcroft Farms UltraWhite stud since the breed was first offered for sale in 2012.
Brian said prior to that the family had used Dorpers because they could quickly reach minimum weights for the live export trade.
Their shift to prime lamb production was in response to the better potential gains and higher returns for prime export lamb generated by WAMMCO.
The UltraWhite replacements quickly introduced an exciting new range of targets, notably rapid weight grain, higher fertility and mothering ability, self shedding wool and were non mulesing.
Mr Bowey has built his UltraWhite flock on Cedar Park to 1800 breeding ewes and has continued purchasing rams from the Hillcroft Farms stud at each annual sale - last week taking another team of six.
He is in the process of expanding the ewe flock to 2000 ewes.
Mating his ewes and ewe hoggets in separate blocks to produce three lambs every two years, he now consistently achieves an annual lamb marking average of 160pc (including ewe hoggets).
UltraWhite rams run eight weeks in each ewe mob and go back in straight after each crop of lambs is weaned.
"Spreading our lamb turn-off allows us to avoid periods of peak supply and to pick up out-of-season premiums," Mr Bowey said.
"Best rewards from the UltraWhites came from the exceptional dressed weights they are capable of and their proven ability to achieve high budgetted returns.
"Our faith in sheep has grown with the high, consistent returns despite the poor current seasonal conditions - less than 150mm of rain since March along with some mid-season frost."
Mr Bowey also points to the rising threat of animal activism as a major problem for the sheep industry.
"These people need to understand that producers have already set world-class bench marks for animal production and are working to eliminate mulesing and other animal welfare issues through breeds such as UltraWhites," he said.