Why there’s going to be pleasure in pain…

One of Australia’s leading lamb exporters once said to me ‘when the sheep flock is under 65 million, producers will always win, when it’s over that number we will do well, the bigger the flock the better for us’.

The simple fact of the matter is sheep and lamb numbers are right up, prices are diabolical and plenty of people want out, which is creating a record surge in supply and creating prices that would appear unfathomable twelve months ago.

We have covered the current issues in our newsletter:

  • A potential live export ban and a dry NSW forcing a rapid turn off
  • High levels of protein inventories in key markets
  • Plants don’t have the labour to cope with increased supply of livestock
  • Record tonnages being slaughtered

We are dealing with a perfect storm of driving forces on sheep/lamb price.

The staggering issue looming over the next short period is the lower the price gets, will mean the lower the price gets, on the basis that the weather forecasts are accurate. This dry is different, as the cost benefits of feeding potentially >$400 barley to a ewe worth $20 will see many producers simply sell down to a core flock, and in many cases total sell off, with more land moving towards cropping (and in some cases beef).

The cost benefit is also compounded by the difficulty of shearing sheep, with a cost structure to produce sheep that has escalated as seen in cost of production data. For the average sheep producer at 64 years of age (ABARE), and can’t find enough help, this could be a catalyst for change.

While for many this is/will be distressing, it is a silver lining that will force down the sheep flock rapidly. This started a few weeks ago (when farmers started to wean lambs) and will accelerate over coming months.

The rapid flock sell down, will create long term opportunities in a world that will hopefully bypass the inflationary effects of COVID, and the subsequent interest rate rises that have impacted consumer spending globally.

Secondly, lamb for the average household has fallen out of the weekly meal repertoire given its price point. For many, lamb is seen as something you only serve for special occasions. The current price levels at competitive pricing to other proteins could help our domestic consumer fall in love with lamb again and get back into weekly meals for an Australian consumer that now only consumes 5.9 kg a year.

There has been a lot of press/pressure on retailer’s current inability to pass on these prices, but it’s starting to change and we are likely to see price reductions over spring in the retail cabinet. Australian public eating lamb is a good thing, and hopefully they stick us when we increase pricing once again.

A recent trip to China SIAL trade show (it was like the Olympics for meat) where every major lamb exporter company exhibited lamb, highlighted how much high-quality beef is in the world, but more importantly it highlighted how little quality lamb exists.

There is a premium lamb shortage (defined by IMF), and it’s this that motivates us to position our clients into the next decade. Couple that with long-term cost reductions per kg (shearing particularly), we have genuinely never been more excited.

Prepare for the storm, we are weeks away from “sheep being shot” on the front page of the newspaper, but keep reminding yourself that there will be pleasure in pain.

The future for lamb is bright.

LAMBPRO Primeline Maternal Ewe Sale 2023

21st NOVEMBER 2023

A rare opportunity to secure large lines of high performing ewes from flocks that regularly achieve outstanding lambing percentages, growth rates and carcase yields.

Vendors will have these ewes and ewe lambs priced to sell. Don’t miss this opportunity.


12pm NSW (11:30am SA)

5000 Specially Bred Primeline Maternal ewes and ewe lambs.

A rare opportunity to secure large lines of high performing ewes from flocks that regularly achieve outstanding lambing percentages, growth rates and carcase yields.
Vendors will have these ewes and ewe lambs priced to sell. Don’t miss this opportunity.

Click on the link for Pre-Auction details:



Lambpro will hold a Tradie lamb Field Day at the Mt Sturgeon Woolshed on Tuesday 3rd October. Click here for full details: TRADIE FIELD DAY

Lamb industry to adopt beef’s focus on marbling

MARBLING has long been king of the branded beef business.

And now claims of breeds being the “Wagyu” of the lamb world are becoming commonplace.

But with the intramuscular fat of the average lamb in Australia at 4.2 per cent — just .2 per cent above the level where consumers start to turn away — the industry needs to seriously look at marbling, according to Holbrook ram producer Tom Bull.

He says there is no prospect of lambs being measured for marbling at processing for the next seven to eight years.

“Genetic control is really one of the only solutions the industry can have in the short term to push into those high end markets,” he said.

“The massive emergence of brands in beef industry is based on marbling … of being more marbled and juicier than the next brand.”

Mr Bull said underpinning eating quality was lamb’s challenge to get into the top echelon of global markets.

“If we are happy with $4/kg carcass weight, then sure it will be more affordable, but the average cost of production in Australia is probably not far from there.

“We are lobster; we are not beef. ”

Not having an objective marbling measure was a “massive impediment to the industry” Mr Bull said, and new lean meat yield measuring technology could also be “very dangerous”.

“Because you turn that switch on and start paying for meat yield, straight away through genetic correlation you drive eating quality out of it, and that is a real worry,” he said.

Thomas Food International’s lamb supply Manager David Rutley.

Thomas Foods International lamb supply chain co-ordinator David Rutley says consumers need consistency.

“To increase consistency, we need to understand the variation in the carcass data, and the biggest cause of the variation is between the individual lambs,” he said.

“On genetic trends from 2000 to 2017, dressing percentage, carcass weight, lean meat yield and shear force are all increasing while intramuscular fat is decreasing, along with consumer overall liking.

“We don’t want high-yielding lambs with high shear force as eating quality gazumps yields.’’

Dr Rutley said producers needed to know the customer was the king of the castle in the lamb industry.

“For the producer, it is all about fertility, survival, growth and feed conversion. But he must also think about what the consumer wants so he can receive a good price for his lambs.’’


Holbrook based lamb genetics business, LAMBPRO is set to launch a new brand for their terminal sires, to denote those suitable for premium lamb production.

The LAMBPRO Five Star Sires classification will be assigned to sires that are trait leaders for marbling which have a high level of accuracy.

The aim is to allow producers who target premium markets, to be able to confidently purchase sires to use in their breeding programs, which will deliver maximum consumer satisfaction.

Tom Bull of LAMBPRO stated “The beef industry has done a great job underpinning brands with high accuracy marbling genetics. For lamb to target the top echelon of consumers world-wide, we need to follow beef.”

MLA data suggest consumers will pay double for MSA 5 Score lamb versus MSA 3 Score lamb. Tom believes being able to have sires that will consistently produce that MSA 5 Score lamb is what will take the industry to the next level.

The new terminal sire brand for LAMBPRO is the culmination of five years of work, focusing on transitioning their terminal sire flock towards high value markets.

This has involved consumer testing and meat testing of sires over the past three years. “We saw in our 2016 lamb sensory tests, the impact marbling had on flavor and juiciness when rated by consumers.”



Tradie sired lamb chops                                                     LAMBPRO 150513: One of Australia’s leading marbling sires


There are plenty of rams that are trait leaders with accuracies of 20-30%. What differentiates LAMBPRO’s Five Star Sires is their accuracy. “We want to be able to provide genetic information on rams with over 50% accuracy.

‘This year alone, 28 sires have been tested which will provide a significant boost of accuracy to the 850 terminal sires to be offered this season’.

The other tool that will accelerate accuracy is genomics. ‘We have increased our genomic testing to a third of the ram drop, with the aim of finding outliers for our breeding program, and our clients. It’s possible we will genomic test all rams in the coming year’.

The work is paying off. Over half of our Tradie’s and nearly a third of our Dorset’s are projected to qualify for our LAMBPRO Five Star Sires program.

In addition to intense selection in the Poll Dorset’s, the infusion of Southdown has made a big impact. ‘The Tradie is basically a Dorset that has a Southdown infusion, and has performed extremely well in our program to date. More importantly we are getting some good feedback from end users in regards to improvement in eating quality.

‘High end brands, underpinned by eating quality will occur in lamb, as in beef. We are simply positioning our clients to take advantage of this revolution.’

“We have an increasing interest from clients who are integrated into various supply chains. Their markets are demanding products which will provide customers with an enhanced eating quality experience. However, with processing plants not being able to measure marbling yet, genetics fed appropriately is the best strategy for processors to purchase progeny of known measured genes.”


The first offering of the LAMBPRO Five Star Rated Sires will be at the LAMBPRO Selection Day in November, with 400 Poll Dorset and Tradie Rams on offer.

1575 SIL Primeline Ewes for Sale

More then 1500 SIL Primeline ewes are up for sale this Tuesday on Auctions Plus. There are also a further 150 Future Breeder Ewe lambs. Click here to find out more.

FIELD DAY Invitation – Making Lamb Black and White


Wednesday 5th July 2017

10.00am – 2.30pm (BBQ provided)

649 Wagga Road Holbrook NSW

(Kinross is 6.5km from Holbrook on the Wagga road).

Click here for invitation: LAMBPRO Field Day 2017 Invite – Making Lamb Black White




A commitment to eating quality and an increased use of genomic technology is lifting the bar in the LAMBPRO Tradie breeding program. Leading young sire 161618 is now ranked 2nd out of 39,000 2016 drop rams. The exciting thing is this genomic data correlates well with the results of the Prime Lamb Improvement Company progeny test results which highlighted this blood line as superior for consumer liking.

In 2016 all the Tradie sires we genomic tested came back as trait leaders for marbling. This was only over a small number, however in 2017 we aim to test 70 Tradie sires to pinpoint the cream of the crop for marbling. There is increased interest from retailers and food service operators in high marbling lamb, and the Tradie is well placed to supply this market.

Lambpro will offer 250 Tradie rams in its November offering many of which will be trait leaders for muscle









On offer is one of the highest indexed groups of Poll Dorset rams to be offered in Australia this season. All rams will be penned from 9.30am on sale day. Inspections by appointment prior to the sale in Holbrook. In addition Auctionsplus will be available for interstate buyers.

LAMBPRO purchased over half of the Hillcroft Farms Poll Dorset stud in 2014. This included the domestic styles of sheep from the flock, with the remaining ewes and commercial client list remaining in Western Australia. This investment cements our position as carcase leaders in the Poll Dorset breed. Consistency is king, and time and time again in our progeny testing we look for sires that breed consistent, high muscling lambs with enough fat for the domestic market.

Our breeding program is targeted at highly muscled sheep, with moderate fat and exceptional eating quality. It is no coincidence that a number of the rams rank in the top rams nationally for marbling. We await further DNA results on all rams, as their pedigree’s suggest many more of them would rank in the top 50 rams nationally.

The fact nearly all the rams have been used in our breeding program is testament to the line- up. The temptation was to keep a dozen of the best sires, but we decided to keep with the Hillcroft Farms policy of selling the best, and using ram lambs moving forward.

Physical sale interfaced live with Auctionsplus. All buyers will need to be registered prior. Catalogue will be available on the website or by contacting Tom Bull on 0438 680 585 or [email protected] Selling Agent: Ross Milne – ELDERS Hamilton 0408 057 558. We hope to see you at Dunkeld on the 25th September 2015.