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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2012
nteed for the future ADVERTISING FEATURE Ewe management boosting the national fock Producer training courses are playing a critical role in increasing in the national fock as industry moves to capitalise on strong market demand for sheepmeats. More than 1000 producers responsible for more than 5 million ewes have either completed or are enrolled to participate in the Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) and High Performance Weaner (HPW) courses. The courses, delivered by Rural Industries Skill Training (RIST), with the support of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), are focussed on improving fock fertility and lamb survival rates. The Lifetime Ewe Management program has also received substantial fnancial support from Australian Wool Innovation (AWI). The ability to meet projected demand for wool and sheep meat requires a signifcant improvement in lamb marking rates and the LTEM and HPW courses directly address reproductive effciency and lamb mortality rates by improving producers’ knowledge and skills in the areas of ewe nutrition, condition scoring and feed management. For more information contact RIST on 03 5573 0943 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. • More information is available at the Sheep CRC’s new website at www.sheepcrc.org.au Transforming wool, meat and the sheep that produce them Can early joining accelerate the fock rebuild? High lamb prices and low supply mean that many producers are keen to build fock numbers, but how best to do it? Sheep CRC postgraduate student Cesar Rosales Nieto has looked at whether joining Merino ewes earlier, at 8-10 months rather than the traditional 18 months, may provide the solution. Mr Rosales Nieto’s research is aimed at developing guidelines to achieve consistent and cost-effective reproductive performance from Merino ewes joined at 8-10 months. “My research is important because it addresses an aspect of the production system that has the potential to improve effciency for sheep producers. Breeding ewe lambs at 8-10 months of age has a number of potential advantages,” he said. “The sheep industry needs to improve the reproductive effciency of the ewe fock to meet current and future demands for slaughter lambs, live sheep and lambs for export,” he said. “The majority of lambs still come from Merino dams while there has been a shift toward more specialist meat breeds. “Previous research has shown that it is possible to mate Merino ewe lambs at 8-10 months of age but the results are highly variable. It is therefore important to develop management guidelines to improve the likelihood of success. “In order to develop these guidelines and to properly defne the economic impact of the strategy we need to identify critical ages, liveweights and condition scores required for reproductive success. “Our research shows that under the right management conditions fertility rates above 75% can be achieved,” he said. To achieve these high fertility rates Merino ewe lambs need to be more than 45 kilograms at the start of joining as well as gaining more than 100 grams per day during the joining period. This requires good nutritional management as well as the right genetics for good growth rate. “Lambing a year earlier, through joining at 8-10 months of age, can increase the lifetime reproductive performance of a ewe by around 20%.” Mr Rosales Nieto said that while the additional feeding costs needed to be set against improved lifetime reproductive performance, the overall benefts appear to outweigh the additional management inputs. His research is funded by the WA’s Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), and also involves Murdoch University and the University of WA.