Returns fine despite price dip

Dorper lamb prices attractive, Dorper Society of Australia chairman Jamie McTaggart says

Sheep
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Dorper Society of Australia chairman Jamie McTaggart says softened lamb prices for the breed are still highly attractive, despite a slight drop this year.

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Softened Dorper lamb prices are still highly attractive, according to Dorper Society of Australia chairman Jamie McTaggart, Port Augusta.

Mr McTaggart is also the director of Saltbush Livestock, an integrated pastoral business that supplies certified organic and Saltbush-branded lambs to export and domestic markets.

Mr McTaggart said organic Dorper lambs were making up to $7 a kilogram earlier this year.

“Prices, which are a little lower, are still very strong and are providing strong returns to growers,” he said. 

“Heavy lambs weighing more than 30kg have been selling above $200.

“We expect prices will be back at least $30 or $40 a lamb in coming months, but we are still happy with the price at those levels.”  

Mr McTaggart said heavier lambs were sold for export while the lighter lambs were sold domestically.

Strong demand overseas has come from Japan, Thailand, Hong Hong and the United Arab Emirates.

Domestically, Saltbush has customers in SA, Vic, NSW and the NT.  

Mr McTaggart produces both certified organic and non-organic lamb and the company practices low-stress stock handling techniques.

“Dorpers do well on all-native pasture and can finish through most seasons in pastoral country, although they do finish faster in winter and spring as a rule,” he said.

Rams are run with ewes year-round, which provides a consistent run of lambs through the year. Mustering four times a year – three times in winter and spring, and once in summer – keeps husbandry under control and allows most lambs to be taken off at target weights.

“I do not want to handle stock when it is hot and dry,” he said.

“If we get good summer rains, we will muster again.”

The Saltbush White Dorper stud breeds and sells about 200 rams a year in pastoral grazing country.

Saltbush runs commercial stock on two leased properties in the north-west pastoral and Flinders Ranges regions, running 10,000 breeding ewes. It also provides management and contract mustering services for producers that run similar production systems.  

Mr McTaggart is a sixth generation northern pastoral livestock producer and is a retired shearing contractor.

He transitioned from Merino sheep to White Dorpers in 2001.

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