WHITE Suffolk sheep breeders aim to be supplying lambs for a branded product within 18 months.
At the Australian White Suffolk Association annual meeting this week, incoming federal council president Anthony Hurst said a branded product to create pull-through commercial demand for the breed remained on the table.
Mr Hurst has spent the past four years developing a White Suffolk branded lamb product with seedstock producers Lachy Day and Andrew Frick.
“We would like to finalise that over the next 12 to 18 months to have it out there for our commercial membership,” Mr Hurst said.
“Commercial members are the backbone of our industry, but at the same time we must maintain our stud membership and encourage the younger members.”
Mr Hurst told Sheep Central negotiations were continuing with a processor and it was hoped the brand initiative would improve abattoir access for AWSA members and commercial WS lamb producers nationally.
“There will be eating quality standards and industry standards that go along with that.
“It will be for lambs with a minimum 50 percent of White Suffolk blood.”
Mr Hurst said the aim was to market the branded product domestically and internationally.
The South Australia breeder has served for the past six years on the AWSA board and was elected at the annual general meeting on February 13 at Creswick in Victoria. He runs 500 registered White Suffolk ewes, 150 Suffolk ewes, 1500 commercial ewes and 1000 beef cattle, at Avenue Range, trading as Seriston Pastoral Company.
He turns off White Suffolk-Merino cross lambs either as suckers at 24kg dressed weight, or finished on bean stubbles to target 26kg carcase weight for Victorian and South Australian processors.
“As seedstock producers, we are passionate about what we do and I wanted to be involved with the breed association.
“It’s my turn to put something back into the industry,’’ Mr Hurst said.’
Mr Hurst said the breed was tracking well for carcass traits on LAMBPLAN and this performance was reinforced by processor feedback.
“It’s a matter of keeping up with the times and what our customers are looking for – that is, consistency of product, evenness in fat cover, taste, flavor and tenderness,’’ he said.
“Intramuscular fat is a big part of it, but not the be all and end all – meat eating quality is a diverse package including shear force, IMF, tenderness, taste.
“As a breed, if we can work on that complete package we are certainly on the right track,” Mr Hurst said.
“Those who have led the association in the past have put in a lot of work and we now have a commercial industry of seven to eight million White Suffolk sired lambs.
“We have a diverse area we are pulling those lambs from but there is also a variance in our product to suit specific markets across a 12 month supply.’’
Mandatory brucellosis accreditation was a highlight
Retiring federal council president Peter Button from Minlaton, South Australia, cited the implementation of mandatory ovine brucellosis accreditation for the membership as a highlight of his two-year term.
“It (ovine brucellosis) is an issue in the industry and as a breed we are proactive in helping to control that,’’ Mr Button said.
He said all breeders needed to take ownership of genetic gain and performance recording.
“Down the track when commercial producers are rewarded for meat eating quality traits, then we will see the real benefits of it.
“We have a lot of young members coming into the breed and they are arriving at the right time to take on this technology and grow with it,” Mr Button said.
“Industry is asking for data so we’ve got to stay ahead of the pack.
“Given our involvement with data recording and genetic performance, White Suffolk is the best option for commercial Merino breeders and those moving back into sheep.’’
Mr Hurst was joined on the board by newly elected directors Paul Routley, Almondvale stud, Urana, NSW; Andrew Krieg, Aylesbury Farm stud, Karoonda, SA, and Brenton Addis, Yonga Downs, Gnowangerup, WA.
The balance of the board is Peter Button, SA, Mark Grossman, SA, Peter Angus, SA, Andrew Heinrich, SA, John Jamieson, NSW, and Debbie Milne, Vic.
Retiring directors, Lachy Day, Days Whiteface, Bordertown, SA; Tony Gall, Wilsons Creek stud, Uralla, NSW and Simon Kerin, Ashbourne stud, Katanning, WA, were acknowledged for their outstanding contribution to the board and the breed.