For all the accountants about the bush crunching numbers on farming gross margins, the industry is yet to find an expert that will say there is less risk and as much money to be made from farming sheep, compared to growing grain.
As I move around the state, I hear regularly those producers who have retained at least a partial interest in farming sheep are now reaping the best financial returns in their lifetime.
Despite crossbred lambs averaging $150-$160 a head, heavy shorn lambs making $170-$200, merino lambs grossing $200 in wool and carcase over 12 months, and wool receipts fetching $2000-$2500 per bale, farmers in many mixed-farming districts are not being advised to spread their risk with sheep in order secure their balance sheet bottom-lines.
For this reason I see excellent buying opportunities in two upcoming store sheep sales at Wycheproof this Friday and next Friday, February 16 and 23.
The weather has turned seasonally dry after a long hot summer and like the recent share market prices have taken a correction after a sustained period of growth.
But when moisture does fall, and I’m sure it will, this small hiccup in market prices will be viewed as a buying opportunity because the numbers of lambs and sheep in the national flock are not as many as most assume.
Rodwells Boort, manager and auctioneer, Nick Byrne, whose company along with Landmark will offer 7500 crossbred and Merino sheep this Friday, said a lot of people without sheep had difficulties getting their minds around paying $200 or more for young Merino ewes that offered five to six years of solid production.
Farmed in normal conditions, he said a Merino ewe would shear $70-$80 of wool each year, and rear a young lamb valued at $140-$160, on today’s money and market.
He said sheep would return this type of cashflow, without the same risk as growing grain, even if the season were to turn nasty and feeding was required.
A feature of Rodwell penning is the GP & CA McIntyre flock dispersal, Willowbank blood, joined to Poll Dorsets.
Wycheproof auctioneer, Kevin Thompson, whose company Elders will offer 14,000 crossbred and merino sheep next Friday, agreed the efficient and balanced operations – farming both grain and sheep – were enjoying incredibly good times.
He said the long-term potential of combining sheep with cropping operations was risk averse investing.
The challenge, he said, was to convince the market that sheep were buyable.
Mr Thompson said the Elders yarding will be outstanding for quality.
Among the Elders numbers 2500 rising two year-old wethers, June to September shorn, and 2500 17-drop wether lambs will also feature along with 6500 scanned ewes.