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Beyond the Bale : March 2018
one another. LTEM was developed using research outcomes of the AWI-funded Lifetime Wool project (lifetimewool.com.au), which ran from 2001 to 2008, and involved growers and researchers in WA, Vic, NSW, and SA. LTEM BENEFITS FOR JOHN AND JENNY Until John and Jenny started the LTEM course, they had an emphasis on determining whether their ewes were ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ at marking time. They also had a very long joining period of about 12 weeks, taking the rams out at shearing. John and Jenny decided to adopt LTEM principles whilst still doing the course. They took the rams out earlier and scanned for the very first time, going all out for multiples. As a result of doing the LTEM course, the Ridleys now regularly condition score their ewes, scan for multiples and feed them according to their pregnancy status, and lamb down their ewes in small mobs. They continue to wet and dry their ewes at lamb marking and make culling decisions according to rearing capability. “As a consequence of the tight joining, scanning for multiples and lambing in small mobs, we marked a much higher percentage of lambs and scanned a low percentage of dry ewes,” John said. “Our classed ewes now wean 105% lambs from ewes joined, and our Merino twins marked 168% with 84% survival. “Our dries are now really low in all our Merinos as well – our maidens scanned only 4% dry – illustrating that our improved management has delivered the results we were after.” Jenny said one of the key benefits of the course was learning the consistency of condition scoring their ewes on a regular basis. “We focused on maintaining good condition scores of 3 and keeping condition scores as high as practicable for those key times of stress for the ewes, such as joining, shearing, lambing, droughts and floods,” Jenny said. “The course emphasised accurate feed budgeting to match pasture quality and quantity with the ewes’ requirements – and helped us calculate the amount of supplementary feed needed for the sheep. “Scanning ewes for pregnancy status and then drafting them into appropriate mobs has also proven important as we have applied different management strategies for each of the different mobs – dries, singles and twins.” The Ridleys added that fox baiting continues to be a very worthwhile activity in their area, to reduce lamb fatalities, and give great returns. “There is no doubt about the benefits of removing foxes; we need to save only four or five lambs through the whole flock to pay for the baits,” John said. “Once foxes are eliminated, the ewes lambing at night are completely calm, sitting down and completely relaxed with zero disturbance.” FUTURE DIRECTION OF ROUND COWAL Looking to the future, John and Jenny say they aim to increase their Merino ewe numbers from 1,550 to 2,200 head, selling down the 2nd grade ewes and building up the flock numbers to all classed ewes. They will continue to run 200 cows but will sell steers at lower weights (480-500kgs) to allow them to run more sheep. They also plan to move out of cash cropping by the end of 2018 and increase pasture cropping to enable increased stocking rates and maintain an appropriate condition score for their ewes. “Ultimately, we plan to increase the weight of our annual wool cut per head of sheep, while maintaining our micron and staple length, and maintaining or improving our wool quality,” John said. “We want to maintain and improve the brightness of our wool. The wool from the Egelabra bloodline we use is renowned for its brightness and ability not to discolour during wet summers, and therefore does not suffer from fleece rot problems which reduces flystrike issues. “We like the good blocky wool tip which forms a barrier against the elements, helping to protect against dust and weather. We cull ewes that are open wool sheep.” ONGOING NETWORKING Following the completion of their LTEM course, the members of the South Forbes LTEM group have kept in touch through further networking and learning opportunities in their area – including a ladies’ discussion group, where ideas are shared with other members about how to make their businesses more efficient. “We are trying to streamline our production records,” Jenny said. “We are also interested in learning more about the business records, including enterprise analysis, where we can analyse income and expenses on a per hectare basis, and learn more about overheads, gross margins and profit and loss within our business.” MORE INFORMATION For more information, or to set up or join an LTEM group in your local area, call RIST on freecall 1800 883 343 or visit www.rist.edu. au/lifetime-ewe-management AWI: www.wool.com/LTEM Jenny showing her son Sam how to condition score ewes, with Jenny using the Lifetime Ewe Management smartphone App developed by AWI (available free from the iTunes Store and the Google Play Store). WOOL-GROWING COUPLE'S CHANCE OF A LIFETIME ON FARM 37
In the Shops - March 2018