A LONG long history of sheep farming in South Scotland equipped Tom Mackie to hit the ground running after he migrated to WA with his wife Anne in 1968, and purchased 430 hectares (1060 acres) of prime high rainfall country at Mt Barker.
He bought the half-developed property just three weeks after landing in WA, starting with a flock of Corriedale sheep that came with the purchase, using a bulldozer to clear the balance of bush and setting a goal to buy more land every five years or so.
The Mackie enterprise today runs 7000 composite ewes, using them with Mt Ronan genetics from York, to service confinement feeding and lotfeeding operations that produced WAMMCO's Producer of the Month award for March 2022.
A large line of 641 composite lambs averaging 21.72 kilograms set a high WAMMCO sweet spot score of 98.91 per cent to win the title.
The lambs were processed at Katanning on March 12, just before COVID-19 among the workers ultimately forced the WAMMCO works to suffer big losses in production.
The Mackies attribute their success in farming partially to strong academic links and to gaining off-farm experience before formally joining the family enterprise.
Tom's son Iain went to Muresk in 1985 and 1986 before joining his father in 1987 when the business was 100pc Merino.
Iain married Kerry in 1991 and welcomed two sons and a daughter Helen (now resident in Perth.)
His sons Phillip, 24, and Andrew, 26, achieved rural degrees from Curtin University and worked with groups specialising in sheep genetics, pasture production and feeding - as well as IT - before joining their father on the farm.
Their roles are now fully integrated within the 50:50 livestock/cropping business.
"We go by the numbers and have worked closely with studs, breeders and specialists to identify the animals best suited to our business, well before any mating begins," Iain said.
"Our operations are designed to ensure that no animal leaves the property in store condition and that we work with Peter Krupa from WAMMCO and others to achieve the best possible average price per lamb on the day."
Breeding animals go into confined grazing in January and are transferred to lambing paddocks ready for lambing in June/July.
Lotfeeding serves to prepare lambs for market in optimum time.
"We run a high input system aimed at achieving 12-14 DSE," Iain said.
"In theory, we would rather feed a pregnant ewe than a ewe and her lamb," Iain said.
"Barley and oats are grown on the farm, but everything else - including lupins and pellets are bought in."
Iain said high rainfall was a standout feature of the Mt Barker environment.
"However it can become a problem when the annual rainfall doubles as it did - to 1000 millimetres last year.
"Wet, cold conditions adversely impact lambing and result in poor growth so our rainfall reliability also has its problems."
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