A LATER lambing has helped Carew producers Marc Carman and Veronica Marechal find lambs in the sweet spot to win the 2020 Mundulla Prime Lamb Competition.
Kongal Springs' pen of 10 trade lambs - which were fifth in on-hoof judging at the Mundulla Show - finished first on-hook and scored 489.2 from a possible 560 points to be the overall winners.
Averaging 23.4 kilograms carcaseweight, they had the highest dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry score (saleable meat yield) of 85 out of 100 of the 30 pens processed at JBS Bordertown.
The May 2019-drops were bred from Dohne-Border Leicester ewes and sired by KD Composite rams.
Kongal Springs has enjoyed plenty of success in the competition as the overall winners in both 2009 and 2010, but Mr Carman said he was "shocked" by their success after noticing many good pens of lambs during on hoof judging.
The target market for the 650 to 700 lambs they sell each year is export (48kg to 50kg liveweight), but Mr Carman said they had opted to enter lighter trade lambs to select a more uniform pen.
Their entry was selected from a mob of 120 lambs (pictured below) which were shorn three weeks before the show. They had been running on bean stubbles for six weeks with a barley feeder.
Mr Carman said they lambed in May, later than many in the district to reduce their ewe supplementary feeding costs and hopefully lamb onto a green pick.
"From now until June is generally when the big money is around and we see it as low risk," he said.
They entered the competition to support the local show but also as a great learning experience.
"You always pick something up and if they are yielding well you stick with the sheep (breeding) you have got," he said.
He encouraged other producers to enter in 2021.
"This year was extremely close in points, anyone could have won it really," he said.
"It is hard for a lot of guys who have already sold lambs, but if you are lucky enough to get your timing right there is a a fair chance you will do well."
Runner-up just 0.2 points behind was another pen of trade lambs - Dohne-Dorpers exhibited by RM&LF Hinge, Mundulla.
Competition entrants receive enhanced abattoir feedback
For the first time in the Mundulla Prime Lamb Competition's history, each of the pens of lambs were processed and tracked individually using electronic identification tags.
Using this feedback they will be able to produce better sheep, get bigger yields out of their lambs and produce a better article so they get paid more.
Organiser Francis Andrews said it was a bonus for all the entrants to have enhanced kill feedback.
"Using this feedback they will be able to produce better sheep, get bigger yields out of their lambs and produce a better article so they get paid more," he said.
Although numbers were back from the record 53 entries in 2019, he said it was pleasing to have 30 pens that highlighted the quality of lambs produced in the area.
"JBS benefit from our magnificent lambs and we benefit from them with all the export markets that they have," he said.
"We again had strong support from the sponsors which will see the event continue into the future."
Elders southern livestock sales manager Laryn Gogel and Trevor James, Coolawang stud, Mundulla, were the on-hoof judges.
Mr Gogel said it was pleasing to see entrants had a strong awareness of "what the industry is all about", with documentation completed correctly and the lambs well crutched, and presented well.
"Mundulla is probably the worst time of the year to conduct a prime lamb competition with many lambs already sold but they always get the numbers and a good representation of lambs," he said.
"We saw some outstanding lambs from all breeds, but some people who made an effort to put lambs in, (their lambs) were a bit underdone and premature going to the knife, but we get the fact they wanted to support the show."
Overall and trade on-hook: MA Carman & V Marechal, Carew
Trade lamb on-hoof: RM&LF Hinge, Mundulla
Crossbred export on-hoof: TJ&KA Pietsch, Bordertown
Crossbred export on-hook: PJ&GW Donnell, Western Flat
Merino export on-hoof and hook: RHL&BS Groocock, Lowan Vale
- Full results: primelambcompresults.azurewebsites.net