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Heggatons to show off research

Countryman

Lamb producers will get to taste test a range of breeds and cuts as part of a field day on September 13, hosted by WAMMCO producers of the month for June, Liz and Craig Heggaton.

The Kojonup sheep producers, trading as Evergreen Grazing Company, are one of four producer demonstration sites in WA for Meat and Livestock Australia-funded lean meat yield and lamb eating quality trials.

Their private research program stems from an opportunity they saw to use the fertility and milking abilities of the East Friesian breed in a range of composite genetics.

To be displayed on September 13 will be the Kojak, a non-shearing, high-fertility breed, the Prolific, a defined wool quality, high-fertility breed, and a Poll Dorset stud, providing terminal sires for prime slaughter lambs within the composite program.

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It will also include a discussion on Charollais, Ille de France and other European breeds new to Australia.

The Heggatons' composite breeding program recognises the underlying importance of the Merino to the sheep industry in WA.

They run 10,500 commercial ewes and 1500 stud ewes, and turn off around 10,000 lambs each year for slaughter.

Ewes are split mated in December and January, including ewe lambs.

Craig said they aimed each year to turn off around 50 per cent of the slaughter lambs at 19 to 20kg as spring suckers, because that was the most cost-effective option.

"In good seasons like this year, we have been able to maximise our sucker lamb turnoff, freeing pastures to carry more ewes throughout the summer," he said.

"The remaining lambs are backgrounded on stubbles and go into our feedlot when they reach 39kg."

A large-scale feed pelletising plant under construction on the property will value-add grain produced on the property to provide pellets for lot finishing lambs and for sale to other producers.

Craig believes identifying and marketing the eating quality of lamb holds major potential for the industry, and that the lamb taste trials now under way will be of vital significance.

"The prime lamb industry offers producers their best chance to get close to their consumers and with many new markets, particularly in Asia, beginning to take more interest in Australian lamb, I believe that we have an enormous opportunity to keep our product development in tune with their tastes," Craig said.

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