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Beyond the Bale : September 2017
TABLE 2: COST OF AGISTING EWE LAMBS FOR 20 WEEKS Freight both ways $5.00 Agist 40 c/hd/wk (20 weeks) $8.00 Total cost $13.00 Husbandry costs associated with running the ewe lambs is assumed to be the same no matter where they are situated. However, in drier areas there tends to be less worm and fly pressure. As Tables 1 and 2 illustrate it will cost $1/hd extra for sheepbelt farms to agist lambs in the wheatbelt rather than run them on the home property. Why would a sheepbelt farmer bother, if for every ewe lamb they agist it costs them $1? There are several reasons, some easy to value but many are not: • Not having to manage and feed ewe lambs over summer • Ewe lambs grow out quicker in the wheatbelt meaning: – Lower death rates – Increased wool cut at first shearing – Increased conception rates as maidens and subsequent lambings • Sheepbelt property will run a lower summer stocking rate, advantages include: – More stubble area for remaining sheep – Less hand feeding required for remaining sheep – More soil cover in subsequent year A typical number of ewe lambs from a sheepbelt property would be 1,500 head. Agisting these sheep into the wheatbelt would cost $1,500 per year but it comes with all the added benefits listed above. For the wheatbelt farmer they get paid $12,000 in agistment fees for managing 1,500 ewe lambs on their property. Water infrastructure would be the biggest hurdle to overcome; checking and maintaining scheme and bore water is incredibly time consuming. This can be made easier with remote monitoring, but that is an added cost. Dam water is ideal but many wheatbelt properties do not have adequate dams. The above is just one simple example that show mutual benefit to both the sheepbelt farmer and wheatbelt farmer. Any number of mutually beneficial agreements could be drawn up, some other examples include: • Wethers – either transported both ways or sold from wheatbelt property AWI-supported extension networks provide opportunities for producers to get involved in practical programs that focus on making positive changes to on-farm production and management practices. The networks are fundamental to the spread of new ideas, continuing education and the adoption of best practice, as well as giving AWI a direct link to what is happening on-ground. • Keeping sheep agisted on stubbles into winter on: – Dirty paddocks – Lower quality soil (lower crop margin) – Frost prone areas – In the event of a late break, some paddocks are removed from crop – Growing a legume pasture to sequester N for the next crop • A wheatbelt farmer wishing to acquire sheep without the large capital cost, could ‘swap’ sheep for the agistment fee (no commission or freight). CONCLUSION This could be an area of mutual benefit for both parties. There are current examples of these types of arrangements, and it is clear that the modern Merino from the sheepbelt thrives when introduced to the wheatbelt. Freight in the past has been the biggest barrier to these types of arrangements. Usually they have started during dry times when sheepbelt farmers are trying to lower stocking rates without selling low value sheep. However, current sheep margins are very high so the added benefits such as increased lambing rates or increased wool cuts can now be traded off against the freight cost. AWI GROWER NETWORK COORDINATOR PHONE EMAIL Sheep Connect NSW www.sheepconnectnsw.com.au Megan Rogers 0427 459 891 admin@ sheepconnectnsw.com.au BESTWOOL/BESTLAMB (Vic) www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/ bestwool-bestlamb Lyndon Kubeil 03 5761 1649 lyndon.kubeil @ecodev.vic.gov.au Sheep Connect SA www.sheepconnectsa.com.au Ian McFarland 0437 659 353 email@example.com The Sheep’s Back (WA) www.sheepsback.com.au Andrew Ritchie 08 9736 1055 firstname.lastname@example.org Leading Sheep (Qld) www.leadingsheep.com.au Nicole Sallur 07 4530 1270 nicole.sallur @daf.qld.gov.au Sheep Connect Tasmania www.sheepconnecttas.com.au James Tyson 0409 006 774 email@example.com In 2016/17, ongoing strong partnerships with state departments of agriculture, private providers and woolgrowers helped AWI ensure that the extension networks had another successful year, with increases in participation and reported benefit by woolgrowers. AWI’s national pastoral extension investment, Pastoral Profit, wound up in June 2017 following a successful AWI GROWER NETWORKS AWI extension networks are present in each wool-growing state and aim to increase the long-term productivity and profitability of producers. All woolgrowers are encouraged to get involved. Examining sheep handling equipment at a Precision Agriculture Seminar at the Condobolin Agricultural Research and Advisory Station in June, hosted by Central West Farming Systems and supported by AWI’s Sheep Connect NSW extension network. three-year collaboration with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), engaging 2,133 producers in 110 activities. Moving forward, AWI will continue to invest in the pastoral zone through its existing woolgrower networks. To learn more about the networks and how to get involved, refer to the website of your state network, or contact the network coordinator below. ON FARM 49
In the Shops - September 2017