John and Louise Gray and sons, Ian and David, run a cropping, Merino and prime lamb enterprise in a 550mm rainfall at Esperance, Western Australia.
The family’s 4200 Wande-Arah Merino stud and flock ewes average 21 micron and cut 6.5-7kg of wool.
About 70-80 per cent of maiden Merino ewes are joined to White Suffolk rams from January 1, with lambing in June-July.
The Grays switched to White Suffolks for the larger carcass and frame size, and reduced fat.
Ian Gray, Sandplain Farming, Esperance, Western Australia
“Our early crossbred lambs out of older ewes are born in late February and we can get them up and away as suckers, and be first onto the market,’’ Ian said.
“Our maiden Merino ewes are marking 90 per cent White Suffolk cross lambs.
“Depending on the season, our early born lambs are finished at 18 to 20 weeks at 45kg liveweight on dryland subclover and serradella pastures.
“We work on a dressing percentage of 43 per cent and this year they were 48 per cent, which was quite phenomenal.
“We finish the later born ones on pellets in feeders over summer to five months of age and sell them over-the-hooks.
“The crossbred lambs are quite enjoyable to produce –they generate good cash flow and are more profitable than Merino wethers, which take more feed to finish.
“We averaged $90 across the entire drop of Merino and crossbred lambs last year.’’