Farm­ers ride on sheep’s back

The West Australian - - NEWS - ZACH RELPH Coun­try­man

WA’s lamb mar­ket has climbed to record highs, with farm­ers fetch­ing an al­most 100 per cent in­crease on prices in the past year.

Lamb val­ues have bal­looned in the past month on the back of in­creased Eastern States buy­ing in­ter­est in WA, with a State record price achieved last week at Katan­ning Re­gional Saleyards.

Farmer Dale Cronin se­cured a stag­ger­ing $289 a head for a line of SAMM ram lambs at the sale on June 5.

Mr Cronin, who farms with wife Suzanne and par­ents Terry and Lyn at Nip­per­ing, east of Wa­gin, said though lamb val­ues con­tin­ued to soar, he had not ex­pected such a high price.

“We nor­mally sell some of the cull rams from our Bunkin SAMM stud af­ter we’ve re­ceived our wool, fat score and eye mus­cle tests,” he said.

“But as the sea­son and mar­kets were play­ing out, we de­cided to sell them a bit ear­lier.

“It was a bit of a shock when I found out how much we got. It was a good sur­prise.”

The Cronins’ new WA record eclipsed the pre­vi­ous best of $260 a head, which was achieved seven days ear­lier when Justin and Kylie Corker, of Ku­likup east of Boyup Brook, sold a pen of 38 White Suf­folk-Merino cross­bred lambs.

It marked a rise in value of more than $100 a head for the Cork­ers’ lambs, which were be­ing sold for about $150 each 12 months ago.

At the Muchea Live­stock Cen­tre yes­ter­day, lambs weigh­ing be­tween 20kg and 24kg were sell­ing for $171 to $233 a head.

The strong lamb prices come amid in­creas­ing de­mand for the pro­tein, with in­ter­state buy­ers flock­ing to WA in search of sheep meat.

Me­cardo mar­ket an­a­lyst Matt Dal­gleish said that he ex­pected the State’s sheep farm­ers to keep rid­ing lamb’s topsy-turvy wave of suc­cess over the next five years.

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