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TAS Country : August 5th 2010
20 Tasmanian Country Friday, August 6, 2010 Stock Report Making More From Sheep Forum Lambing vital for flock SURVIVAL: On average the Australian sheep industry has lamb losses of about 30 per cent a year. Lamb survival could be the key to increasing the Australia's sheep meat production. Karolin MacGregor reports. SOUND ADVICE: Speakers Jason Trompf and Andrew Kennedy. LAMB survival could be the key to increasing Australia's sheep meat production. This was the key message from Jason Trompf who was a guest speaker at the Making More From Sheep forum at Quercus Park near Carrick. Mr Trompf is from J.T Agri- Source at Mill Park in Victoria and said improving the manage- ment of ewes and lambs could help reverse the trend of Aust- ralia's declining sheep flock. Over recent years Australia's sheep flock has fallen from about 170 million to 68.5 million while slaughter rates have re- mained at record high levels. Mr Trompf said this constant erosion of the national flock would not be sustainable in the long term if Australia wanted to retain it's current markets for sheepmeat. He said it came back to what was happening on individual farms. ''On your operation, if you're selling more sheep than you're producing, you're eroding your flock and that's not sustain- able,'' he said. Mr Trompf said one area where there was room for sig- nificant improvement however was lamb survival. Research across the country's merino flock have shown little change in lamb marking rates over the past two decades with an average of 77 per cent for both the periods from 1990-1999 and 2000-2010. On average the Australian sheep industry has lamb losses of about 30 per cent a year. Mr Trompf said it was a significant problem, and mak- ing producers aware of the the situation important so they could change their management systems to improve lamb sur- vival. The income mix of wool to sheep meat ratio on most oper- ations has changed dramati- cally over the past few years from 80 per cent wool 20 per cent sheep meat, to a 50/50 mix. Mr Trompf said improving the fertility of the sheep flock, having more lambs and getting them to survive and thrive was the key to increasing Aust- ralia's sheep production and overall flock numbers. Body condition score is one of the most critical factors when it comes to getting more ewes in lamb and lamb survival. Mr Trompf said research had shown that merinos were more responsive to condition score changes and lifting condition by one score could produce an extra 20 lambs per 100 ewes. Average lamb survival rates among Merinos across the country in general however are a concern. Mr Trompf said there was a perception that merino ewes were not all that fertile, but pregnancy scanning research had revealed that on average, merinos in the trial were scan- ned at 125 per cent in lamb. Breeders told of gene data value A CROWD of more than 200 people flocked to last week's Making More From Sheep fo- rum at Carrick. Confidence in the lamb indus- try was evident, with producers from across the state turning out to hear how they can make the most of the market boom. The program included guest speakers from across the country and kicked off with Andrew Kennedy, from the De- partment of Food and Agricul- ture in Western Australia. Mr Kennedy's presentation, The New Ewe, focused on how producers can use Australian Sheep Breeding Values' genetic data to target specific traits within their breeding programs. Mr Kennedy said, despite the market slump, wool operations with a merino flock base were still one of the lowest risk enterprises available. ''Wool is one of the least risk enterprises, because even if you have a catastrophic failure in reproduction, you can still get some returns,'' he said. Mr Kennedy said in most sheep systems, ewes were the engine room of the operation. ''We want more lambs and better survival and that's the primary objective of the ewe, and she has to contribute to rapid lamb growth as well,'' he said. He said using genetic selec- tion can also create easier care sheep that are more resistant to parasites. But he added this also had to be balanced against perform- ance traits such as growth rates, reproduction and overall prod- uct quality, whether that was meat or wool. Selecting for some traits can produce added benefit. As an example, he said select- ing for growth can increase reproduction. But more growth can also produce higher birth weights. ''All the traits are related and you need to be aware of the impact of what you're produc- ing and how you're doing it,'' Mr Kennedy said. He also told the forum it was essential producers understood the ASBV system and how it could affect breeding programs. The ability of ewes to perform even under tough seasonal con- ditions is something the esti- mated breeding value research is now targeting. He added there was also work being done on joining ewe lambs and increasing fertility at a younger age, which will be a major focus of ewe breeding developments going forward. Getting the right genetic mix in breeding programs, however, involves more than just select- ing the right ewes. Mr Kennedy warned pro- ducers against buying rams without ASBV data. ''Buying rams without ASBVs from a business and economic prospective is pretty dangerous,'' he said. It's now easier to sell your cattle at Brighton. Due to increased demand our scales will open every second Monday, 10 am -- 1 pm, starting on August 16. Call Cade Ebdon 0409 437 950 or Michael Ardle 0428 134 122 for more information, or to book your cattle in. It's what you would expect from a company fully committed to the Tasmanian cattle industry. Brighton every fortnight Prompt payment always at Greenham. 6452 2701 www.greenham.com.au RGM/GRT34869 Like to know more? Then just ring: Elliot Mainwaring Circular Head 6456 1300 0419 131 458 Nick Strickland Central / N-W 6433 3230 0417 335 843 Ian Millen Central East 6344 8915 0408 133 685 Daniel Sinclair North-East 0428 384 484 Ron Crack King Island 0400 895 133 Michael Ardle South 0428 134 122 Wayne Oliver Statewide 6362 3682 0419 358 441 Cade Ebdon Statewide 0409 437 950 Graeme Pretty Livestock Controller 0418 505 347
August 12th 2010