THE numbers of smaller Great Southern farmers depending on sheep for most of their income may have continued to decline over the past few decades, but third generation sheepmen such as Graeme and Hilary Cussons, Kojonup, proudly still "hold their own".
As many of their neighbours have reduced their flocks in favour of more cropping, the Cussons family has continued to pursue a winning formula with their Merino based flock, joined to Poll Dorsets, that saw them named WAMMCO's Producer of the Month for November, 2022.
"We have always grown grain for farm use only and for many years were predominantly breeders of Pooginook Merinos before moving to WA Merino studs Angenup and East Strathglen," Mr Cussons said.
Poll Dorset rams originally came from local breeder Dick Padbury, and more recently from the Cussons's next door neighbour Garry Mitchell, Amberley stud, and also from the Pearce family's Orrvale Poll Dorset stud, whose rams are sold at the Kojonup SSS sale.
Mr Cussons has been delivering 100 head lots to WAMMCO for many years and it was one-such lot of 102 Poll Dorset-Merino lambs processed at Katanning on November 29 that weighed in at a winning average of 20.75 kilograms (including skin) to return $136.87 per head.
The draft achieved WAMMCO's ultimate perfect score of 100 per cent.
Mr Cussons lists close personal liaison with WAMMCO booking officer Alison Addis and producer relations manager Rob Davidson, with bookings and other advice as the key to maximising his returns.
"That also included solving personal problems with our bookings on top of a very handy rebate cheque from WAMMCO in August," he said.
"When COVID-19 hit the Katanning plant and the livestock team was wrestling with the backlog of old-seasons' lambs, we were told some of our bookings for lambs would be cancelled.
"The way WAMMCO staff worked overtime to resolve this crisis was very impressive.
"Crops and pasture from the second consecutive best season on record ensured the Cussons's flock remained in good condition for the duration of the processing crisis."
Mr Cussons said the family flock had developed as a producer of prime lambs as well as a specialist supplier of wether lambs to the live export trade and producer of quality wool.
Whereas he had been able to supply wethers for the recent resumption of the live export trade, he said future supply continuity could be a problem because of the extra $30 per head it will take to produce the extra 10kg or so per head to prepare wether lambs for the prime lamb market.
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