THE goal of owning an Australian sheep farm in a solid area, has brought some notable achievements along the way for New Zealander, Stacy Williams, who started farming near Kojonup just 13 years ago.
Stacy and his WA wife Melissa and three children Amy 11, Georgia 13 and Troy 24, were the winners of WAMMCO's January 2020 Producer of the Month title with a line of 105 crossbred lambs selected from a mob of 530 new season store lambs they purchased for $110 a head average in December 2019 from Great Southern saleyards.
The winning earlier draft of lambs weighed an average of 23.11 kilograms and returned $158.98 a head on processing at Katanning on January 7, with 98.1 per cent of the carcases hitting WAMMCO's premium 'sweetspot.'
"Our other drafts to WAMMCO from this mob also did well, reflecting a top feedlot ration for five weeks, but left no doubt that margins on store-feeding are often extremely fine," Mr Williams said.
The original opportunity in 2007 to follow a New Zealand family tradition of breeding and running sheep on his own farm, was also not without its hurdles.
The couple had visited Kojonup at the time to pick up some gear for their near-city hobby farm, noticed the 400 hectare property was for sale and decided to make a bid.
Mr Williams moved to WA from the South Island of New Zealand in 1996 and started as a driver for Koorda farmer/transporter Jeff Burton.
He met Melissa soon after and the couple married in 2006.
"A finance broker found the funds for us and my previous employer Jeff Burton stepped in with the necessary expertise to get our first crop ready," Mr Williams said.
"The woolshed had not been used for many years but we have now fixed it and replaced the sheepyards.
"We have since added another 400ha of leasing/sharefarming to the original 400ha title and our Merino flock nudged 1900 ewes this year - up from 1000 last year."
Mr Williams accounts for about 90pc of the manpower required for the Kojonup property, but shares a number of specific tasks with fellow farmers in the district to make their individual operations easier and cheaper.
He said he had found it good practice to sell off his older ewes with the lambs each year, replacing them with hogget ewes, usually sourced from Great Southern saleyards, and mated to Poll Dorset and White Suffolk rams purchased locally.
He said the most welcome farming improvement since the couple moved to Kojonup 13 years ago was that sheep enterprises were able to match the returns from cropping.
"We crop half the property with canola, barley and wheat," Mr Williams said.
"We also repasture with a mix of barley and oats to our clover/ryegrass pasture paddocks."
A 20ha bluegum plantation, developed but since abandoned by the WA Forests Commission, will remain in place for now - helping to contain a small area of salt land.
"My rain guage seemed to stop about 150 mm short this season," he said.
"Fortunately the rain fell at the right intervals and we finished with a reasonable season."