Having a product that will stand the test of time in all market conditions is easier said than done in the agriculture industry, but it appears lambs from Poll Dorset sires are ticking all the boxes.
Fast-growing, compact and structurally-sound animals with the ability to meet consumers’ ever-evolving eating quality preferences, meat from Poll Dorset-cross lambs continues to find a home in high-end markets.
While the current oversupply and price decline is weighing on many in the sheep industry, the ‘quality sells’ mentality is keeping producer sentiments buoyed in the prime lamb space.
At Cowra in the Central West region of New South Wales, Brett and Shaneen Treasure are confident their product will be able to ride the market waves.
“I think there’s always a good market for the product,” Mr Treasure said.
“Obviously, demand has dropped and there is an oversupply… but the people we’re dealing with are targeting high-end markets and I think they will stand the test.”
The Treasure family’s prime lamb and cropping enterprise is run across 1800 acres, and sees 1800 first-cross ewes joined to Poll Dorset rams.
Depending on the year and the market, lambs are sold through the Cowra saleyards, direct to Gundagai Meat Processors, or to Coles.
“They’re quick-growing, compact, and solid in the back leg, particularly,” Mr Treasure said.
“No matter the season, Poll Dorsets seem to keep fresher and keep moving; if they’ve got the tucker and they’re well bred, they’ll keep improving.”
The sheep are grazed on seasonal pastures, including lucerne, as well as oats, barley, wheat and canola crops.
“Normally, crops are sown in May, but we sow in late March into early April, so we get about six weeks of grazing and then we lock them up and they go again like a normal crop.”
After powering ahead on pastures and crops in the winter, the Treasures have started lot feeding lambs in the summer to save the pastures being trampled, and the lambs have shown their ability to convert feed and perform well here too.
“Poll Dorsets have been bred for the purpose for quite a while now and they certainly seem to suit the meat buyers and allow you to target the sucker market or the export market,” Mr Treasure said.
Proof is in the premium
The suitability of the Poll Dorset lamb for the high-end market can be found in the premiums it’s able to achieve.
Recently, the Treasures won the Gundagai Meat Processors GLQ Score for age award for lambs under six months.
Grading each lamb on ‘the perfect balance of mouthwatering intramuscular fat and just the right amount of tender lean meat’, the GLQ Score is part of Gundagai Meat Processors’ goal to revolutionise the lamb supply chain with an innovative approach to the producer-processor relationship to deliver a new level of value to customers.
This is achieved through a price premium, with all lambs graded as GLQ5+ currently receiving an $0.80 premium per kilogram.
Diversifying but staying faithful
Proven performance, the ability to achieve a premium for the quality product and a family history with the Poll Dorset breed makes Mr Treasure a firm believer in their place within his operation.
This article is sponsored content in partnership with the Australian Poll Dorset Association.