A White Suffolk lamb brand enhancing commercial demand for the breed could be a reality within 12 to 18 months, according to newly elected Australian White Suffolk Association president Anthony Hurst.
The Avenue Range stud breeder, along with fellow SA breeders Lachy Day, Bordertown and Andrew Frick, Pathdaway, have spent the past four years developing a White Suffolk branded lamb product for the commercial membership.
Mr Hurst , who has been on the AWSA federal council for the past six years, said there was seven to eight million White Suffolk sired lambs born each year in southern Australia, to potentially supply the brand.
“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,” he said.
Mr Hurst said the White Suffolk breed was tracking well for carcase 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 runs Seriston Pastoral Company, which comprises 500 registered White Suffolk ewes, 150 Suffolk ewes, 1500 commercial ewes and 1000 beef cattle.
He turns off White Suffolk-Merino cross lambs either as suckers at 24 kilogram dressed weight, or finished on bean stubbles to target 26kg carcase weight for Vic and SA processors.
“As seedstock producers, we are passionate about what we do and I wanted to be involved with the breed association,’’ Mr Hurst said.
“It’s my turn to put something back into the industry.’’
Mr Hurst was elected federal president at the annual general meeting in Creswick, Vic this week, replacing fellow SA breeder Peter Button, Ramsay Park stud, Minlaton.
Mr Button said the highlight of his two-year term was implementing mandatory ovine brucellosis accreditation for stud members.
“It (ovine brucellosis) is an issue in the industry and as a breed we are proactive in helping to control that,’’ he 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.
“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.’’