Paul Brown's lamb likes to cruise.
At least, it has graced dinner plates on many P&O cruise ships, and for the sheep breeder, that is something to be proud of.
Mr Brown, Palmyra, Goolgowi, NSW, uses Prime SAMM rams over his Merino flock, and he is finding it is the best of both worlds.
Mr Brown and his two brothers run between 2500 and 3000 Merino ewes on their three properties north and south of Goolgowi.
And breeding sheep runs in their blood: they were born on the property and have always run Merinos.
They used to put Poll Dorset and White Suffolk rams over their Merino ewes to produce a meat article. But it was when Mr Brown took a trip to Kangaroo Island in 1999 and 2000 that their production took a turn.
"I saw the SAMMs, and I was very impressed with the way they stood up," he said. "They are a good, solid animal, and they are a hardy type of animal."
The brothers buy SA Merino ewes, and they are joined to SAMM rams. Mr Brown said they used to keep the ewe lambs and join them to a Poll Dorset, but now they sell the first-cross ewe lambs to other breeders.
We slaughter our own meat, and with the carcase, you've got more meat between the ribs, which is where the extra weight comes from.
For the past three years, Mr Brown has bought his rams from Lawral Park Prime SAMM stud, Ungarra.
"I'm pretty impressed with (Lawral Park stud principal) Campbell Lawrie's rams," he said.
"They are long, big-barreled, soft wool rams, which give you an excellent carcase.
"And I've found the SAMM rams are often cheaper than the British breeds, and you are getting a better article."
Ewes are joined in November and December for an April/May drop, and Mr Brown said he had noticed a number of differences in the cross lambs.
"They throw a slightly smaller lamb than when you use Poll Dorset or White Suffolk," he said.
"They are definitely just a bit hardier than the British breeds. They certainly suit our environment.".
Lambs are weaned at the end of August onto crops for six weeks, and then placed in an on-property feedlot, run using the Brown family's grain.
"We've been feedlotting lambs for 10 years, and they are in the feedlot for at least four months," he said.
"It means the feedlotted lambs aren't tying up your land, so you can run more ewes on your country. And there's no gain like grain."
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The brothers also grow winter crops, including wheat, barley, field peas and vetch for hay. They also grow oats to supply Uncle Toby's.
The lambs are usually sold from seven to eight months old onwards.
Mr Brown said from February onwards, if prices were good, lambs may be sold, dressing out about 30 kilograms to 32kg. But if they are kept until 12 months old, they would dress above 40kg.
"We slaughter our own meat, and with the carcase, you've got more meat between the ribs, which is where the extra weight comes from," he said.
Their lambs are marketed by Spencer and Bennett, Griffith, NSW, either through the Griffith saleyards or direct to Fletchers International in Dubbo, NSW.
Mr Brown said this year, all of their lambs were bought by Fletchers, which had a contract with P&O International.
The Brown family shears three times a year, with lambs shorn in October, producing a 20 micron to 22M fleece averaging about 2.5kg. Their ewes are shorn in August and February, averaging a 4kg fleece.
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