“Who can put your hand on your heart and tell me what your average lamb growth rates were last year?”
That is a question I regularly ask while presenting to producer groups. Guess how many hands go up.... Actually it is disgraceful! So far it is running at less than 5% across audiences ranging from 10 - 350. And almost every one of those people attending fall into the category of specialist lamb producers.
Ask them in the next breath what their number one KPI for their business is and the immediate answer is "kilograms of lamb per hectare". And yet they aren't measuring it! Don't give me the same opportunity to make you feel bad next time we cross paths. Know your growth rates this year.
Within our client base we are seeing some absolutely staggering growth rates, with genetics being allowed to express their real potential with a good season. More importantly however, we are seeing management allowed to express its real potential as well. For those who have put in the hard yards, controlled everything they can control, and set ewes up to perform, the results are speaking for themselves.
The leaders so far are single born lambs grazed at relatively low stocking rates on what we regard as a rough rocky 100ha paddock. A paddock that every year blows our minds with the growth rates achieved. This year the lambs have averaged 490g/hd/day from birth through to weaning (based on 5kg birth weight and average age based on peak of lambing). This, in an industry that talks so much about 300g/hd/day as a target. Bugger that, I want more.
And for those of you sitting there thinking "yeah but they are singles", hold onto your hats. Triplets from the same property continue to astound us. One ewe weaned a set of triplets with a combined weight of 109.5 kg at day 80 (avg 39.5 each). That equates to 390g/hd/day each, or 1.17kg of lamb produced by that ewe per day from lambing to weaning. Now that is performance!
The best part is, these are entirely maternal composite genetics. There is still a whole other layer of terminal sire performance to added to the mix for this property.
I recently took a group of producers to the client's property for a look around. As we drove into the triplet paddock one of them said knowingly "so these are singles".... "ummm no these are triplets". Sure a couple would have been reared as singles, and a handful only as twins, but the majority were real triplets. Born and raised.
For those of you with merinos, the fun doesn’t stop at crossbreds and composites. We have clients with merino lambs averaging over 300g/hd/day on rocket fuel pastures.
There is a lot of bullshit spoken when it comes to marking results and lamb growth rates, but rest assured these are real numbers. Not just the ones that get thrown around down at the pub.
So what are your lambs doing? If you don’t know, go and find out. The only chance we have to improve is to know what the current level of performance is. Don’t just expect things to happen... make them!