Summer agistment pays off for Cullams


Agisting lambs on the summer rain-affected crops of a Jerramungup neighbour not only allowed Simon and Helen Cullam to cut summer feed costs on their Samm lambs, they also took out WAMMCO's Producer of the Month title for April 2012.

Their Cullam Samm enterprise sent 253 wether lambs to Katanning for processing on April 4, averaging 23.35kg per carcase to return $110.70 per head, including a $3.61 skin.

The price per head included a WAMMCO Select amount of $687.38 on 135 top lambs (53.4 per cent of the consignment). This was equivalent to $5.09/head on the qualifying lambs, or $2.72/head or 11.6c/kg across the entire consignment.

A saleyard oversupply of lambs in April brought prices down from the levels Cullam received for its winning Producer of the Month consignment in March, 2011, but an extra .46kg/head of bodyweight helped to compensate.

Earlier sales of cast-for-age breeding ewes at around $130/head on the farm the previous spring also helped to balance the livestock budget.

Capacity bookings at Katanning in March have since resulted in a subsequent consignment of Cullam lambs being sold to a Bunbury processor.

Simon said his summer agistment arrangement confirmed the beneficial synergies between lamb producers and total croppers.

"We were able to benefit from our neighbour's crop residue and summer feed by using his stubbles. This made a big difference to our feed costs and helped the neighbour by cleaning up weeds and volunteer crops," he said.

Simon said the ewe lamb sisters to the wether lambs in the winning consignment had already been mated and he was continuing to progress to his target turnoff of around 3000 lambs per year.

Samm influence in the commercial flock continues to grow, while at stud level, Simon is closely watching the performances of several Samm breeders in order to improve the Cullam genetic base.

"We have been virtually a closed stud since Cullam joined the SAABCO syndicate to import Samm embryos from South Africa in 1997, but I am keen to see that we stay at the forefront via continual performance recording and assessment," Simon said.

Last year's on-property sale saw a total clearance of Cullam rams at an average of $920, with several new buyers joining existing clients.

His neighbours, and consistent clients of the Cullam Samm stud, Graham, Chris, Wayne and Marie-Claire Barrett, followed up their win in the 2011 carcase competition for consignments of more than 300 lambs, with second place in this year's competition in the trade weight section.

Simon has leased more land for cropping and grazing this season and has increased his stocking rate to 5.2 sheep WGHA to increase turnover.

He has been looking at soil nutrition, growing crops for grazing and grain and sowing ryegrass to boost pasture production.

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