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Beyond the Bale : September 2016
28 ON FARM MORE VALUE AT MOORA Completing a Lifetime Ewe Management course and a More Lambs More Often workshop has highlighted to woolgrower Jeremy Lefroy from Moora in WA the benefits of good sheep nutrition and management on reproductive performance, and the flexibility and value that dry sheep offer in a region with variable seasons. J eremy Lefroy runs 7,800 Merino sheep plus 4,000 lambs on his 3,000 ha property ‘Colvin’, 30 km east of Moora in the North East Wheatbelt of Western Australia. His Merino flock grows soft, long-stapled, deeply-crimped wool with an average micron of 18. Jeremy has recently undertaken a Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) course with local farmers followed by a More Lambs More Often (MLMO) workshop, both with advisor Ed Riggall. Having completed the courses, Jeremy is increasing his flock’s weaning rates, while also running a large number of dry sheep – such as wethers and unmated ewes – that provide him with the flexibility to sell them quickly, especially useful in a region with such a significant variation in rainfall. INCREASED WEANING RATES “Eight or nine years ago I thought I was doing everything I had to do to run a fairly efficient wool enterprise,” Jeremy said. “But with the changes I have now made, I’ve lifted lamb weaning rates from around 85% to around 100%. “That increase in weaning rate – and I’m talking percentage of ewes mated to lambs weaned – earns an extra $40,000-50,000 in revenue each year. That’s significant. “Looking after twins has been the key. Pregnancy testing for twins has been vital. We really make sure that the twin-bearing ewes are the priority especially in dry years.” LTEM is a nationally accredited course developed and run by Rural Industries Skill Training (RIST) and supported by AWI. The farm-based course provides materials and develops skills to help sheep producers improve animal nutrition, lamb survival and weaning rates - see page 31. It involves small groups of producers learning to best match the energy requirements of their animals with pasture production and supplementary feeding to maximise reproductive production. MATCHING LAMBING TIME TO GREEN FEED AVAILABILITY In 2000, Jeremy changed his lambing time, shifting it back later in the year and so lambing started in July and finished in August, which has made his flock among the latest lambing flocks in the district. “It’s made a big difference – we have better ewe and lamb condition score and survival, less tender wool and mid breaks, better lamb growth rates and it is easier to get the ewe in condition score 3 for the following mating. “Over the past 40 years the winter growing season in southern WA has tended to start later and the rainfall has declined. Sometimes it’s not starting until mid to late June in the east Moora district. Lambing during times of no or poor amounts of green feed is unprofitable and requires significant hand feeding.” Of the 3,000 ha at ‘Colvin’, 700 ha is unarable. Half of the unarable country is fenced off salt-affected land – this is only grazed between May and September. Jeremy sows approximately 100 ha of barley or sub clover pasture each year, but doesn’t do any Jeremy Lefroy in his shearing shed at ‘Colvin’, 30 km east of Moora in Western Australia. PHOTO: Danella Bevis
In the Shops - September 2016