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Beyond the Bale : September 2017
For Luke Hall, Wagin is very much home. He was educated at Wagin District High School and the WA College of Agriculture at Narrogin, just north of Wagin. He is the fourth-generation of his family in the Wagin district and has always lived in the shire. He also had the honour this year of being chosen by Wagin Woolorama as its Rural Ambassador for 2017. Luke has spent ten years on the family farm and manages the family’s mixed sheep and cropping enterprise. The property is 3000ha, comprising ‘Glendower’ bought in 2008 and the family’s home farm ‘Buchanan Hills’ that has been in the family since 1954. “On the sheep side of the business, we run 2,500 breeding ewes and turn the wethers off as finished lambs at approximately five months old,” Luke said. “We are in the process of building the flock. Three quarters of the flock have been mated to Prime SAMM rams to get some more growth rates into our lambs’ genetics. After approximately three years we will then put pure Merinos back over the flock to bring the wool cut back into line. At the moment, we cut an average of 21 micron.” LTEM COURSE The Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) course aims to increase producers’ understanding of the influence of ewe nutrition and management on overall reproduction rates and lamb and ewe survival. Producers develop the skills to manage their ewes to achieve condition score targets, and explore the economics of supplementary feeding and pasture management to review stocking rates. Last year, Luke began an LTEM course with local producers Pete Cumming, Tom Patterson, Lindsay Johnson and Campbell Lloyd – with the group facilitated by Narrogin-based sheep consultant Jonathan England of AgInnovate. “We have lifted production from averaging 95% at marking last year to 115% this year, or from 4 to 6 lambs/ha.” LUKE HALL “Pete Cumming heard about the Lifetime Ewe Management program and asked if I’d be interested in joining a local group,” Luke said. “We didn’t really have an intense or production-pushed breeding program at home so I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn a thing or two. Plus, with the AWI subsidy provided to woolgrowers to undertake the course, I thought it was value for money.” LTEM groups meet six times in the annual sheep calendar during a period of 12–18 months. The course is very hands-on, being based in the sheep yards, shearing sheds and paddocks of participating woolgrowers, which enables participants to share and learn from one another. Luke’s group has so far met five times, with one session to go. APPLYING LEARNINGS Luke has already been applying what he has learnt so far in the course to his own flock. “At the moment, I’d say one of the most useful things I’ve learnt and applied on-farm is the benefit of pregnancy testing, and feeding each mob differently based on what they are carrying. “We used to pregnancy scan if we were keen to sell a mob of sheep, but really for no other reason. But this year we did multiple scanning and gave the multiples a lupin and oat mix while the singles already had enough feed, so we saved on food because we would normally have supplementary fed all of them. “We have lifted production from averaging 95% at marking last year to 115% this year, or from 4 to 6 lambs/ha. “It’s been hard though, because despite having a good start to the season, feed has been tight since April and still is!” “Through the group, I was also encouraged to mate seven-month old lambs to a SAMM ram. By monitoring condition score and keeping weight on them, they pregnancy scanned at 103%, which is a good result in my book, and I recently marked them at 96%.” 27-year-old Luke Hall from Wagin in the Great Southern region of Western Australia is undertaking a Lifetime Ewe Management course – and he is already seeing productivity benefits in his own business after adopting the course’s learnings. BRINGING HOME LIFETIME EWE MANAGEMENT Luke Hall with a mob of his sheep at Wagin, WA. 42 ON FARM
In the Shops - September 2017