Australia Merino Sire Evaluation Association site in South Australia
The SA Merino Sire Evaluation site inseminated 954 ewes to 16 sires in mid-January 2017. The site recorded a conception rate of 62 per cent with 402 ewes scanned with singles and 192 ewes scanned with twins, 360 ewes were dry.
Importantly, there are nearly 50 foetuses scanned per sire. This is an excellent base to evaluate sire’s progeny for a range of composition, wool and meat quality traits.
The trial site is located at the Keynes family’s Keyneton Station. It will provide the opportunity for objective comparisons to be made between rams from different studs by evaluating their progeny for sheep type, structure, wool production and carcase traits.
The progeny are all run in the same environmental conditions, with all male progeny marked. The site is important for SA’s Merino industry given no other open Merino sire evaluation trials occur in SA. The site will make an important contribution to genetic improvement for Merinos in SA. There has been considerable support from the Merino ram breeding sector and livestock industry service providers.
This evaluation will be an accredited sire evaluation program run under the guidelines of the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA) and will follow its rigorous design, recording and data evaluation protocols. Sire results will be reported in the Merino Super Sire publication as well as at site field days, newsletters and media.
Lifetime ewe management adoption in SA
Two important targets of the Blueprint relate to increasing the number of ewes mated each year in SA and importantly also increasing weaning rate. In part, these targets will be met through greater adoption of Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) in South Australia. Participation in a LTEM group can lead to significant on-farm gains in stocking rate, weaning rate and enterprise income. For example, extensive research shows that those who pregnancy scan for multiples and differentially manage these ewes have a 14% increase in weaning rate.
In SA, there are nine LTEM trainers (listed below). An initiative of the Blueprint has been to further equip trainers with critical skills and tools to ensure high on-farm benefit. This training has been delivered by the highly experienced livestock consultant Ken Solly. It is expected 15 new groups involving 75+ sheep producers will be established with producers aiming for 10%+ increases for both whole farm stocking rate and weaning rate.
Details and enrolment for Lifetime Ewe Management can be accessed from Kirsty Kennedy (RIST), 03 5573 0943, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lifetime Ewe Management trainers based in SA:
- Daniel Schuppan – Jamestown
- Colin Trengove – Adelaide
- Elke Hocking – Lucindale
- Tim Prance – Victor Harbour
- Emma Shattock – Burra
- Simon Ellis – Verdun
- Brendon Voss – Naracoorte
- Hamish Dickson – Clare
- Meg Bell – Millicent
Improving lamb survival by optimising lambing density
A key component of increasing productivity is lamb survival. As a Blueprint initiative, South Australia is part of the national project, ‘Improving lamb survival by optimising lambing density’. The SA component is being delivered through a collaboration involving the Davies Research Centre, SA Sheep Industry Fund, Landmark and Elders with funding from Australian Wool Innovation and Meat & Livestock Australia.
In SA, 10 on-farm trial sites will be established that quantify the effect of mob size and stocking rate on lamb survival for single and twin bearing ewes. Management guidelines for optimal management at lambing, including mob size, paddock size and stocking rate, which lead to a 10% increase in survival of twin born lambs over and above that achieved from adopting existing guidelines for management of ewe nutrition will be developed.
SA delegates celebrate industry at LambEx 2016
More than 120 South Australians headed across the border to the first-ever New South Wales held LambEx 2016 last week in Albury. The two-and-a-half-day event welcomed more than 1050 delegates, with international and Australian speakers discussing the latest outcomes and research on lamb, sharing their vision, and empowering and inspiring participants to all champion their passion.
Champion marathon runner Robert de Castella, Riverina Bluebell’s Chris Wilson and former National RIRDC Rural Woman of the Year Pip Job were standouts in the Survive and Thrive session, along with information delivered by local producers Vicky Geddes, Holbrook, NSW; Matt Browning, Borambil, NSW; and Jason Trompf, JT Consulting, Victoria, in the Bringing the Paddock to Life session. Meat Science session speakers Murdoch University’s Professor Graham Gardner and Prof David Pethick, NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Dr David Hopkins and Meat & Livestock Australia’s Doug Piper and Sam Burke were also exceptional.
Thanks to sponsorship from SheepConnect SA, Spence Dix & Co, Pinkerton Palm Hamlyn & Steen and the SA Sheep Industry Fund, as well as support from Livestock SA, two LambEx SA buses headed across to the event from Naracoorte and Nuriootpa, with 73 people onboard, including some who had travelled from as far afield as Kimba. Participants ranged in age from 16 to 70, with producers and stakeholders from PIRSA, Livestock SA, University of Adelaide, Elders, Farmer Johns, and an inaugural 2014 LambEx Young Gun making the trip across.
The buses were coordinated by Solly Business Services’ Ken Solly, Naracoorte; SA Sheep Industry Blueprint Manager Stephen Lee and Rural Solutions SA: PIRSA’s Bruce Hancock. “Following the success of LambEx 2014 it was excellent to be able to ensure strong SA participation at LambEx 2016,” Dr Lee said. “The buses allowed old friends to catch up and new friendships to be made. Importantly each person on the bus has indicated what on-farm and community based actions they will be pursuing to support the SA sheep industry. It highlights the value of LambEx and travelling together.”
Mr Hancock said the engagement and active participation of everyone in the Nuriootpa bus in the numerous bus workshops/discussions led by other participants was extremely fruitful. “Eleven hours just seemed to race by, both ways,” Mr Hancock said.
Mr Solly said he had organised a bus trip last year to the BestWool/Best Lamb Conference in Victoria, and afterwards participants had asked if he would organise a similar trip to LambEx. “I see enormous value in the quality of networking,” he said. “There were so many people on the bus that did not know each other prior to the trip. The networking on the bus, and at LambEx was invaluable. In particular the importance of keeping good quality data and using it to make decisions was one message that was highlighted. “We’re very appreciative of the sponsors who allowed us to undertake the trip, and make it an affordable experience for those who may otherwise have been unable to make the journey.” Mr Solly said the trip to Jason Trompf’s property at Greta East as part of a Pre-Conference Tour was “fantastic in more ways than one”. “We couldn’t allocate enough time to it,” he said. “There was so much to take in from the maternal trials, to eID tags and the importance of recording good quality data.”
Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Farmer Johns and the Angaston Agricultural Bureau directly supported 13 producers from the Barossa and surrounding districts to attend.
SheepConnect SA’s Coordinator, Ian McFarland said his program saw it as a great opportunity to support farmers to attend the event. “It meant they could hear about the latest research, marketing and productive opportunities, as well as to network with a wide range of industry stakeholders,” he said. “It was a great opportunity for South Australian farmers.”
SA Sheep Advisory Group Chair Leonie Mills, which administers the SA Sheep Industry Fund, said it was an excellent opportunity to assist an enthusiastic group to attend this event and have access to really current information and contacts within our industry.
Hook tracking system at JBS Bordertown
With support from the Sheep CRC, PIRSA and Livestock SA a hook tracking system will be installed at JBS Bordertown. This will allow data collected on traits such as lean meat yield and once tests are developed eating quality to be assigned to individual carcases enabling feedback to suppliers. This represents an important step towards implementation of feedback and value based marketing systems.
Development of a rapid sheep lice detection test
Control of sheep lice was highlighted as a priority during the South Australian Sheep Industry Blueprint development consultation with sheep producers across the state. Sheep lice cause a significant economic loss to the SA sheep industry with estimates of lice incidence in flocks of greater than 25%. The project aims to develop an in-shearing shed test based on presence of sheep lice DNA on shearing hand pieces, with results available in under 30 minutes.
This test will ensure the timely and cost effective treatment of infested mobs of sheep and significantly reduce the need for double handling of sheep with associated labour savings and animal welfare outcomes. Importantly, the availability of such a test will also reduce unnecessary lice treatment of sheep post-shearing and reduce the development of resistance to treatment.
Within SA, at a five-year adoption rate of 20% it is expected more than $2 million per year will be saved in treatment costs alone for a test cost of $200,000 per year. Further flow-on benefits will be realised through improved lice control leading to improved sheep productivity, wool quality and fleece values.