IT has been 17 years since Kelvin Westbrook, Loxton, installed a feedlot with the capacity to hold 1000 lambs.
Since then, it has expanded to hold 40,000 lambs and can turn off 100,000 to 120,000 lambs a year.
"There is a positive outlook in the industry," he said.
"We have a product that is wanted on the world market and we need to be able to fulfil those requirements.
"I think in the future we may be looking to increase the average weight of the kill lambs in Australia, so we utilise each lamb more.
"This is limited a little by the genetics, but as we develop genetics further we'll be able to finish lambs at bigger weights.
"At present we have a lot of lambs that aren't suited to grow out to heavier weights because they do not have the genetic potential to do so."
Kelvin sells domestic lambs to Woolworths and Coles and export lambs to Thomas Foods International and JBS.
"We're a quarantined feedlot so all lambs go direct to slaughter," he said.
When Westbrook Feedlot began, feedlotting was a new industry.
"Prime lambs were coming into popularity and demand through winter months for well-finished lambs was increasing," Kelvin said.
He said they would probably look to increase feedlot capacity to 45,000 next year, and possibly 50,000 the following year.
He said that these days, there were more direct sales to the processor.
"There's a bigger concentration on finishing a lot more lambs, to even-out supply throughout the year," he said.
"Lambs are finished at heavier weights, and that shows up in the average kill weight of lambs in Australia.
"The average weight is increasing and we need to finish a lot more lambs if we're going to maintain our development of export markets and supply the domestic market. Our ewe base is fairly static at present."
Kelvin said most lambs used in the feedlot were bought-in.
"We feed predominately first-cross and second-cross lambs, with some Merino and Dohne lambs fed on for the export market," he said.
"The performance figures of rams is something that is being slowly adopted by commercial breeders. I think that is the way of the future."
* Full report in Stock Journal, March 27, 2014 issue.
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