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Punch up your prices with Poll Dorset

POLL Dorset sired lambs continue to be the most profitable in prime lamb production.

Whether it be a Merino, first-cross or composite dam, Poll Dorset rams will produce lambs that consistently reach target saleable weights faster.

Having new season lambs ready to market earlier means lambs can be sold at the start of the season, when prices are at a premium and supply is lower.

The lambs yield, consistency and eating quality means processors prefer Poll Dorsets, and will seek them out first to fill direct to works orders, and compete on them at the saleyards.

Which means not only are producers getting the lambs out of their systems and money in their bank earlier than with any other prime lamb sire - they are also receiving a premium price.

Rapid Growth

Graeme and Jody Mitchell's run a 2600-head Border Leicester-Merino ewe flock at Cudal, NSW, and they can attest to the rapid growth of Poll Dorset sired lambs. .

"We join two-thirds of the flock for an autumn lambing so from that we'll graze them on crops and most years can sell 60 to 70 per cent of the lambs as suckers, from 12 to 14 weeks," Mr Mitchell said.

"With the suckers we try to work on 44 kilograms, for a 20kg to 22kg carcase, and nearly all go through the Forbes saleyards.

"The market in July is particularly good because it's normally a time of short supply, so with the right growing conditions and grazing crops we can normally get them there.”

Down the road at Boorowa spring suckers produced with little inputs are proving profitable for Tim and Bernadette McGrath and their son Toby

They join Poll Dorset rams to first-cross ewes, with all lambs sold as suckers at about 16 weeks.

"If we can get them to 20 to 24 kilograms carcase weight (liveweight target of 45kg to 50kg) at 16 weeks off mum, with very little inputs at that point, and get good money, we're happy,” Mr McGrath said.

Heading further west, Poll Dorset sires are a perfect match for Merino ewes in the Hampel family's sheep enterprise at Kapunda, with their fast-growing sucker lambs in strong demand from SA processors.

David and Lauren Hampel run 500 Merino ewes joined to Poll Dorsets focussing on a quick turnaround of lambs to take advantage of the high prices available in the new season sales.

"We've been quite successful, if we can get our April-born lambs ready for sale by the end of August, that's when we get our best bang for buck," Mrs Hampel said.

"Last year we started lambing on April 6 and were able to sell the first draft of lambs at four months of age on August 19 on the hooks.

"The lambs averaged 45.5 kilograms live weight and dressed at 22.9kg, so nearly 50 per cent of their live weight, and we received nearly $200 a head for them.”


A majority of lambs meeting the market on time, everytime, is one of the reasons prime lamb producers, and processors, prefer Poll Dorsets.

The Mason family of Westwood Grazing at Spicers Creek, NSW, have been showcasing the consistency of their Poll Dorset lambs at the Dubbo Prime Lamb Hoof and Hook competition over a number of years.

This year they were the most successful exhibitors, and they are no strangers to gaining accolades for their Poll Dorset-sired lambs in the competition.

The Masons say their lambs are the most profitable part of their extensive farming business, and being able to turn off suckers at 16-18 weeks was how to make it to the top of the lamb business.

In 2022, they were awarded reserve champion sucker and reserve grand champion pen of lambs - with two different pens.

The Bowan Park Poll Dorset stud research flock is allowing the breed to ensure the continued advancement of key commercial traits relevant to the Poll Dorset’s role as a terminal sire – growth, muscle and fat measured on live animals, and yield and eating quality at carcase assessment.

As well as gaining important insights into performance measures, the trail allows sires producing above industry results to be identified and then be further utilised across the breed.

The lambs from the trial are processed at Gundagai Meat Processors, and chief executive officer Will Barton is using new technologies that he says have the potential to generate greater returns for the whole supply chain.

They in turn will be able to further highlight the quality and consistency of Poll Dorset lambs to processors.

“These technologies provide us a more in-depth analysis of intramuscular fat and lean-meat yield in lamb, so we can use this information to market our brand and products to better meet the needs of our customers,” said Mr Barton.

“Traditionally, lamb in Australia is of a high-quality but subject to variations of quality. These new technologies allow us to grade and sort carcases to achieve a more consistent and improved eating quality.

“Producing MSA-quality lamb will help us to compete with other premium proteins. With this technology, our lamb will be of the consistently high quality that our domestic and international customers expect. Aussies who love their lamb have a lot to look forward to.”

Premium Price

Poll Dorset-sired suckers broke the national saleyard new season lamb price record twice in 2021.

A pen of 54 Poll Dorset-sired lambs, offered by the Bob, Judy, Melissa and Joanne Rodham, East Cranbrook, Uranquinty, NSW reached a national saleyard record for new season lambs of $340 at Wagga Wagga, NSW in September.

They were sold by RH Blake, estimated to be 34kg carcass weight, and purchased by JBS Brooklyn.

This surpassed the record of $331, set by another pen of Poll Dorset-sired lambs just the month before.

Also sold through Wagga Wagga, those lambs were bred by Gordon and Wayne Rodham, also of Uranquinty, and purchased by Geelong, Victoria, processors M.C. Herd.

Poll Dorsets also sired the lambs which reached a record high for the Hamilton saleyards in Victoria last year, when the Foster family sold a pen for $330 to Gathercole through LMB Linke and Livestock.

The estimated carcase weight of the lambs was 38kgs, and Rick Foster said the lambs were the last of 7000 he sold for the year, with 80 per cent of them sold direct to processors.

Poll Dorsets are the preferred prime lamb sire, providing rapid growth, consistency and a premium price.