Flexible program suits the market

Flexible program suits the market

Sheep
Aa

Sam Beech is the second generation to work his family's farm.

Aa
Sam Beech is the second generation to work his family's property at Frankland River.

Sam Beech is the second generation to work his family's property at Frankland River.

SAM Beech is the second generation to work his family's property at Frankland River.

Growing up on the farm meant he had an interest in the agricultural industry and went on to further his education, studying a degree in Economics and Agricultural Science at The University of Western Australia (UWA).

Having completed his degree Mr Beech made the decision to return to the farm full-time and is working alongside his brother Ben and his parents Peter and Sharon.

Across their properties the family runs a breeding flock consisting of half Merino ewes and half Maternal blood ewes.

Also on the farm is full-time worker Max Frusher, and during the busier times of the year, the Beechs also employ casual staff.

In addition to their sheep operation, the Beechs run a cropping program with a 50:50 split between the two.

The cropping program includes wheat, barley, oats, canola and lupins, with Triticale also being seeded for sheep feed.

To provide more feed for the sheep, some pastures such as ryegrass and clover are also resown.

With some of the country previously being bluegum, the Beechs have had to do some significant pasture manipulation to help establish these varieties.

It is only in the past four years that they changed from White Suffolks to Maternal sires to improve their flock genetics and they have had early success with the crossbreds.

When sourcing their Maternal rams, the Beechs use the Bowen family's Mount Ronan stud, York and they use Rothbury stud, Martagallup, for their Merinos.

The Mount Ronan stud is well-suited for their environment as they produce hardy lambs that are durable.

"We get great lambing percentages from them," Mr Beech said.

Using the Mount Ronan genetics enables the Beechs to sell their lambs early as they are quick growing, especially within their first 100 days.

Mr Beech said the lambs were also smaller at birth which means the ewes don't have trouble at lambing.

Due to having the two different breeds, Mr Beech said they split their joining, with the crossbreeds being joined in early-mid-February for lambing in July/August, while the rams are put in with the Merinos in March/April for the last of the Merino lambs to drop in September.

"We do that for ease of management and it also means that the lambs are dropping onto green feed and we can sell the crossbreds early," he said.

As for markets the Beechs like to be flexible selling to whichever market suits their lambs at the time, but usually sell to abattoirs.

"We aim to get the lambs off their mums as soon as possible," Mr Beech said.

The lambs are drafted by eye and are generally sold to WAMMCO at 45kg+ liveweight for an 18-22kg dressed weight.

The Beeches have an ongoing trial, mating their green tag (2019) hoggets which are just six months old at mating, to increase the productivity within their flock.

The rams are put in with the hoggets for a 12-week period.

"I'm excited to see the results of the trial, it will be interesting," Mr Beech said.

In the past the family has pregnancy tested its ewes, but due to a low number of dry ewes and not needing to separate their mobs according to feed availability, that has stopped.

"It's something we may look at doing again in the future," he said.

When culling they mainly look at condition, fertility and age.

The sheep have medium wool in the 19-22 micron range and cut around 400 bales annually in January-February.

The 2019 season was a good one and Mr Beech said they did well with their sheep.

"The lambs were in good condition and we got good prices for them," he said.

This year has been promising on the farm, receiving plenty of rain so far for their cropping and livestock programs.

"We haven't got as much as some people but it hasn't been too bad," Mr Beech said.

To ensure they have plenty of water, even in drier years, they are strategic with the management of their dams and are continually maintaining them.

"Max has also built some larger dams for extra water storage," he said.

When filling the feed gap, the Beechs trail feed a mix of grain and in the coming year they will be trialling silage.

This year has been tough in-terms of feed availability and has meant they have had to supplement feed for a longer period of time.

Mr Beech said their crop program complemented their sheep, providing additional feed over the summer months.

A Mount Ronan Maternal blood cross ewe with lambs at foot.

A Mount Ronan Maternal blood cross ewe with lambs at foot.

"We are lucky with the cropping side of things, we put the sheep on stubbles in December and that keeps them going for a few months," he said.

As for improvements Mr Beech said they were always trying to better their flock and continually developing their genetics to achieve breeding objectives.

"We are really pushing Guy's genetics and are pretty happy with our crossbred genetics at the moment," he said.

In the coming years, Mr Beech said he would be interested in implementing electronic identification tags (EID), but is waiting to see the tags used in a more efficient capacity.

"They're quite expensive, so I want to see them used a bit more," he said.

The EID tags would allow them to cull more accurately according to performance figures.

Mr Beech said they were always trying to do the best they can and is enthusiastic about the future of their farming operation.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by