A CLOSE working partnership between Phil and Chris Bairstow has been rewarded with WAMMCO's Producer Of The Month title for June, 2012.
The win vindicated a decision to develop their Gulnare Prime SAMM stud and commercial lamb enterprise at Dumbleyung as a centre for high growth lamb production.
The Bairstows blitzed the June competition with a line of 101 Prime SAMM lambs that included 80 lambs identified as WAMMCO Select, one of the highest premium percentages recorded on a commercial draft at the Katanning plant.
The consignment had an average weight of 25.72kg a lamb, entirely within the fat score 2-3 range and sold for $4.34 a kilogram to return $111.73 a head.
Lambs qualifying for WAMMCO Select attracted a bonus of $5.30 a head, or an extra $4.20 a head (16.3c/kg) across the draft.
Phil said news of the title win came as a surprise, but confirmed Gulnare's membership of the elite circle of Prime SAMM stud and commercial breeders in the Dumbleyung area.
Phil and his wife Chris defected from Merino production to go total cropping for four years in the late 1990s before tough conditions forced a rethink on sheep and their recognition of the rapidly developing potential of Prime SAMMs.
They took the opportunity to buy about 30 mated Prime SAMM stud ewes from Esperance Rural Properties in 2002, and with a Prime SAMM sire from Rocco De Bellis's Gracefield stud at Katanning, and a keen early interest in LambPlan, they set out to produce Prime SAMM rams for a commercial lamb operation.
"We started the commercial breeding program with a mix of about 800 Merino ewes and have now progressed to the point where the 1000 head ewe flock is regarded as Prime SAMM," Phil Bairstow said.
"We concentrated from the start on high, early growth, balanced with a close watch on muscle development.
"Chris virtually runs the lamb enterprise and has developed excellent systems for monitoring and managing ewes and lambs at critical times and identifying developing traits that we wish to adopt or reject.
"We have seen more ewes with triplets this year and many of these are looking good, despite the critical need for more rain."
In recent years they have purchased several stud rams and semen from Tony Abbey and Graham Sutherland's Sandown Prime SAMM stud, Badgingarra, including Sandown 236, now rated by LambPlan as Australia's top Prime SAMM sire.
"We are proving that Prime SAMM lambs fit well into the 25 to 30kg premium range and have a unique ability to reach weight quickly without going to fat," Mr Bairstow said.
"Our concern is that the US market decline in price proves to be temporary, or that WAMMCO can find viable new markets for heavier lamb."
Mr Bairstow said concerns over price resulted in the couple's decision not to feedlot-finish their lambs this year.
"I could not justify spending $20 a head to feed lambs when the price was in decline, and we were lucky that the season has enabled us to achieve good weights under natural paddock conditions," he said.
Mr Bairstow said sheep played a significant dual role on the 2800 hectare Gulnare property as a cropping tool to control ryegrass.
This year the Bairstows backed off the cropping program a little, while maintaining sheep numbers, to keep the enterprise balanced.
The Bairstows are hoping for some good rains and positive news on lamb prices before their team of about 30 Prime SAMM rams are offered at the Wagin and Districts Pre-Mating ram sale on Tuesday, September 25.
Back to News Headlines