Wild dogs, price drop behind fall in lambs

PRIME TIME: Stanthorpe Show steward Jim Mitchell with the winning pen of prime lambs – a 43kg offering from the Greenup family at Maryland Pastoral Company.
PRIME TIME: Stanthorpe Show steward Jim Mitchell with the winning pen of prime lambs – a 43kg offering from the Greenup family at Maryland Pastoral Company.

WILD dogs and lacklustre prices have been blamed on a 50% fall in prime lamb entries at this year's Stanthorpe Show.

But event steward Jim Mitchell had nothing but praise for the high calibre entries offered by what he called some of the industry's "most determined producers".

Many of these people are struggling to find reasons to stay in the industry and I can't say I blame them. It's tough.

Graham Greenup, from Maryland Pastoral Company, dominated the winner's board again this year. He took home the broad ribbon prize for the champion single lamb, as well as champion pen of 43kg lambs and then went onto win the carcase competition.

"Maryland Pastoral Company does produce stand-out lambs and this year was no exception," Mr Mitchell said.

"Their entries would have been competitive at any prime lamb event in the country."

Yet it wasn't the quality of entries, which irked the Stanthorpe Show long-time steward, it was the battle facing those producers trying to stay in the sheep and wool industry.

"We're seeing the demise of a great industry" Mr Mitchell explained.

"People around here are just struggling to stay in sheep and wool because the dog problem is getting so bad.

"In the 12 months since the last show, more producers from around here have left the industry.

"Wild dogs are just having such a devastating impact, that people are saying we can't keep doing this and they're baling."

He said the stress of battling wild dogs was exacerbated by falling lamb prices at the saleyards.

"The market has definitely come back and that has hurt producers too," Mr Mitchell said.

"Many of these people are struggling to find reasons to stay in the industry and I can't say I blame them. It's tough."

As a prime lamb producer, he is lobbying for government to support higher bounties for wild dogs in an effort to encourage outside "help".

"There have been some very successful examples of higher bounties working," Mr Mitchell said.

"I know of one case where local government bounties of $100 were matched by industry bounties of $100 and the number of wild dogs trapped or shot in that area rose significantly.

"And, what's more, producers on the ground could tell the difference.

"The simple economic fact is that $100 is not enough for the time and work involved in getting one dog."

He said unless there was a significant shift in support measures for struggling producers, the sheep and wool industry would collapse.

"What makes it worse is that lamb consumption is on the rise. Consumers love lamb because you never get a bad, tough piece of lamb.

"It's a great product and we're proud to produce it but we're battling."

Cut above

McDougall and Sons 2013 carcase winners:

 1. Graham Greenup, Maryland Pastoral

 2. Andrew Ferrier, Mallow Lamb

 3. Peter Reimers

 4. Andrew Ferrier, Mallow Lamb

 5. Peter Reimers

Topics:  feral animals stanthorpe show wild dogs

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