Buoyant sheep and wool prices are allowing graziers to invest in more on-property infrastructure improvements.
Russell and Lyndell Neal, Caerleon, Tara, have recently begun building new sheep yards and also upgraded their sheep handling facilities.
The Neal family run a mixed farming and livestock operation on Caerleon, which includes 1000 head of Merino ewes.
“We have received good prices for our lambs and wool, most of the time, over the past five years,” Mr Neal said.
The Merino ewes are mated with Poll Dorset rams to produce crossbred lambs for the sheep meat market. The Poll Dorset rams are used as a terminal sire.
“Good market prices have lifted the profitability of our sheep herd and that has allowed us to spend more money on improving our sheep yards and buying new handling equipment,” Mr Neal said.
“The new sheep handling equipment in our race has reduced the amount of labour and time we spend when working the sheep in the yards.
“Sheep can be labour intensive at times, but our investment in new handling equipment has made things easier.
“Even the young grand kids can help us work the sheep now.”
Mr Neal noted it was the first occasion he could remember lamb, mutton, and wool simultaneously being at such high prices.
The solid prices are expected to continue during 2017, according to Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest sheep industry projections report.
MLA’s market analyst Ben Thomas said restricted supply and increased consumer demand for lamb will continue to push lamb prices up during the year.
The MLA report showed domestic lamb retail prices last year averaged 10 cents shy of the record high set in 2011 at $14.51/kilogram.
In more good fortune, the Neal family received 94 millimetres of rain across their Tara property this week.
“This rain will bring the pasture on that is already there and if we get some smaller falls from now on, it will make the winter period a lot better,” Mr Neal said.
“Up until the rain this week, it was an extremely tough summer for farmers with only very patchy rainfall during this growing season.”
The Neal family conduct shearing in June each year, in which their children and grand kids all help during the busy time of year.
Mr Neal said he believed the biggest issue currently facing the industry was a lack of available shearers.