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Beyond the Bale : December 2015
45 Robert is adamant that the benefits gained far outweigh the costs in terms of conception rates, fetal and lamb survival and wool benefits. “Last year I estimated that it cost $20/head to supplement ewes. This cost was recouped in extra wool cut and tensile strength alone. The added benefits from extra lambs, greater lamb survival and improved performance to weaning were cream.” While confident that the LTEM program is a win/win for industry and producers, and happy to incorporate many of the LTEM principles into practice, Robert is mindful that there are areas where additional work is needed or where management can be tweaked further. “I’m prepared to lamb in smaller mobs but may lamb single and twin bearing ewes together if I have to – but only once I’ve scanned the ewes and fed the twin bearers up to the point of lambing!” “Pastoral or Western areas struggle at times to have adequate paddocks if we have to split to the ‘n th ’ degree. We need to work within the constraints of our region and environment but I’d support the science behind the LTEM principles for sure – it’s just how we adopt and implement the strategies that’s important.” Areas in which Robert would like to see additional research undertaken include: • The pros and cons of joining and lambing maiden ewes alone/with mature aged ewes. • The pros and cons of pre-joining and pre-lambing shearing and shearing effects on ewe body condition score/ conception/fetal survival etc. • Improvements in scanning accuracies through operator accreditation and/ or impacts from scanning speed being addressed. ‘Edward Park’ had scanned, single bearing ewe mobs mark in excess of 110% in 2015 and Robert is quick to say that such inaccuracies have the potential to undermine the good work LTEM offers. • The role and cost effectiveness of mineral supplements particularly during lambing. • Streamlining fly control and pain relief operations through a single, easy use product to improve animal welfare and industry uptake. • Monitoring and costing the flow-on effects and benefits to weaners of sound LTEM flock management practices. There are six LTEM groups operating within southern NSW that are supported by the Western Murray Land Improvement Group (WMLIG) and the Murray Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. AWI is tripling its investment in reproductive efficiency over the next four years. Building on its investment of more than $2.7 million in all facets of the Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) program over four years, AWI is to accelerate the further extension of the program while investing in new research and development opportunities to improve the reproductive performance of the Merino. As AWI’s flagship extension program, LTEM has now directly influenced 20% of the national flock. The 3,000 woolgrowers that have participated in LTEM have on average increased weaning rates by 10% and reduced ewe mortality by 30%. If these levels of impact of LTEM on woolgrowers can be maintained, then AWI plans to lift the participation rate of LTEM to 50% of the national flock by 2019, assisted by regional variants of the program. A farm-based course developed and delivered through Rural Industries Skill Training (RIST), LTEM involves woolgrowers learning to best match the energy requirements of animals with pasture production and supplementary feeding to maximise production and animal welfare. AWI General Manager Research, Dr Paul Swan, said: “LTEM is now regarded as best practice nutritional management but we also want to explore the next opportunities around genetics and management to further improve reproductive efficiency. It is important to continue the momentum.” To help guide research opportunities, renew strategy and deliver further extension, AWI has enlisted the expertise of renowned sheep researcher Dr Andrew Thompson as the new Program Manager of Reproduction for AWI. Dr Thompson is Associate Professor of Animal Science at Murdoch University, Perth and is well known across the country for his research leadership of sheep production systems, especially in the area of reproduction. He has managed many large national projects for both AWI and MLA over the past 15 years including the AWI- funded Lifetime Wool Project and subsequently co-developed the LTEM program. He will remain at Murdoch University and be employed by AWI on a part-time basis. MORE INFORMATION www.wool.com/LTEM The LTEM course is very hands-on, being entirely based in the sheep yards, shearing sheds and paddocks of the participating woolgrowers; the course is run in groups of four to six woolgrowers who meet six times each year with the facilitation of a trainer. AWI INVESTMENT BOOST FOR REPRODUCTION
In the Shops - March 2016