Marcus Sounness

Marcus Sounness
Property: Paper Collar Gully
Location: Amelup WA
Rainfall: 400mm
Property size: 3,000ha
Livestock: 3,000 breeding ewes
Soil type: Sandy gravel over clay and sandy loam
Pasture type: Sub clover and lucerne based

Marcus is the manager of ‘Paper Collar Gully’, a 3000 hectare Merino sheep farm in Amelup, Western Australia. He is a fifth generation, mixed crop (wheat, canola and barley) and sheep (Merino ewes and terminal sires) farmer and currently has 3000 breeding ewes on farm.

After a year in the MLA Challenge, Marcus said they are saving thousands of dollars in feed costs by changing their production system to produce more lambs and turn them off earlier, rather than chasing a high dollar per head market with a costly feeding regime. 

“Our lamb production business has been focused on turning off prime Merino lambs at 50kg,”  

“But as part of the MLA Challenge we started using the cost of production calculator. We ran the figures for every scenario and they were all inefficient. Having this information was crucial in making the decision to change the basis of our operation.”

“Talking to our mentor helped us realise what we’ve always known, that it’s really hard for us to get the last 10kg of weight on those lambs, and it’s very expensive,” 

“We were compromising other aspects of our production business, including using pasture that could be feeding our pregnant ewes during our autumn feed gap,"

“We decided to turn off our lambs as 35-40kg shippers instead of 50kg prime merinos. We calculated we could save as much as $40,000 per year in feed costs for our ewes. We changed our focus to production per hectare rather than chasing a high dollar per head market.”

Marcus said that while the shift in production had been dramatic, the biggest impact on the family business had been his wife, Shannon's, changing role.

“We’ve developed specific roles in our business and Shannon has really come on board with the business decision making,” he said. “It makes it so much easier to have someone else who is on top of the program and knows what needs to happen.”

Shannon said; “At the start of the Challenge I was an outsider looking in to the family business, but now I’m a full partner. Doing the research for changing our production system meant I really stepped up.”

Marcus's MLA challenge mentor was Rob Warburton.

Follow Marcus on Twitter

Read blogs from Marcus below, or view all blogs.

Marcus and Shannon Sounness
For Marcus and Shannon Sounness, the MLA challenge has pushed them to implement change in their business over 12 months but they had no idea how profound that change would be. They explain what has changed in their approach in this blog.

Shannon Sounness
Family is the most important thing to Shannon Sounness and in this blog she explains how she has found her feet in the family farm business and now feels as much a part of it as anyone else.

Marcus and Shannon Sounness
Marcus and Shannon have made some simple changes to improve communication with their staff, and reduced the amount inout required from them as managers. An upcoming human resource skills workshop will help them continue this and make the future workplace a rewarding, safe, enjoyable community.

Marcus and Shannon Sounness
Marcus and Shannon discovered that by targeting the high price per head of the prime merino lamb market it was increasing costs, reducing production per hectare, and ultimately reducing profitability. In this blog they explain more about their move from marketing prime Merino lambs to store Merino lambs.

Marcus and Shannon Sounness
Marcus and Shannon now know where to put their finishing post, next trick is to learn how tomarket their store lambs to maximise income.

Marcus Sounness
Marcus and Shannon are looking at how they can market their lambs the same way they market their grain, and to do that they need to look at their production system. They explain in this blog.

Marcus Sounness
Defining roles for everyone involved in the farm business has been a difficult but important task for Marcus during the MLA challenge. Here he talks about how identifying strengths, talking and working on the roles everyone has benefits the business and everyone involved in it.

Marcus and Shannon Sounness
Marcus and Shannon are making a few changes to how they manage pregnant merino ewes with their condition a top priority. Here they explain the changes they have implemented.

Marcus and Shannon Sounness
Marcus and Shannon are kicking some goals for their business in the long term, and gearing up for their fourth quarter key decision points.

Marcus Sounness
Marcus and Shannon have struggled a bit during quarter 3. They're really beginning to feel the impact of the reduction in their labour force. Their mentor has encouraged them to keep things in perspective as farm performance is not always the best measure of your achievements for the year.

Shannon Souness

Marcus and Shannon Sounness
Marcus and Shannon took a couple of well deserved breaks recently, here they write about looking after themselves so that they can look after the business.

Marcus and Shannon Sounness
Marcus and Shannon are preparing for joining and seeing the results of some of the changes they made earlier in the MLA challenge.

Marcus and Shannon Sounness
Having been a big fan of WormBoss for a number of years, Marcus and Shannon have welcomed the latest development of a hub for parasite information.


Watch updates

Quarter 3 was busy for Marcus and Shannon, they explain in their wrap-up video.

Marcus and Shannon share what quarter two of the MLA challenge brought to Paper Collar Gully.

Tweets about #MLAchallenge

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