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Beyond the Bale : June 2018
LIFETIME EWE MANAGEMENT BENEFITS PRODUCTION Woolgrower Peter Luberda, who is currently approaching the end of a Lifetime Ewe Management course, runs 2,200 Merino ewes near Esperance in Western Australia with his parents. Their ewes have a 92% conception rate, with an impressive 60% of the wet ewes scanned as twins. Commercial woolgrower Peter Luberda farms a mixed enterprise with his father John and mother Francis, at their 1,100 hectare property alongside the West Dalyup River at Dalyup west of Esperance, where they receive an average annual rainfall of 550mm. The property has been in the Luberda family since the 1960s. They currently run 2,200 Merino ewes cutting wool of about 20-21 microns. The flock comprises 800 hoggets and 1,400 are mixed age ewes; the Luberdas sell their wether lambs. Their cropping operation includes canola, wheat, barley and oats. Peter is nearing completion of a Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) course run by Ken Hart of Ewetopia Consulting, who Peter says is very knowledgeable and a great facilitator for the group. Peter says he was motivated to join the course because he saw it as an opportunity to better understand how to improve lambing percentages and therefore improve the bottom line of their business. ABOUT LIFETIME EWE MANAGEMENT The LTEM course, supported by AWI, 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. LTEM groups, typically comprising 5-7 producers, meet six times in the annual sheep calendar during a period of 12 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. 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. The LTEM course is a great example of where investment in initial research, its further development and an effective extension model has paid off handsomely for the woolgrowers for which AWI works, and it will continue to generate benefits for many years to come. BENEFITS FOR THE BUSINESS Peter said that the LTEM course provided him with useful knowledge and skills to more effectively manage the nutritional requirements of ewes through the reproduction cycle – and discover how these requirements are influenced by pregnancy status (singles/ multiples). The course also helped him to determine Feed On Offer (FOO) and potential supplementary feed requirements. “It’s been very beneficial to understand the benefits to our bottom line of increasing conception rates, and the importance of feed management and ewe body condition scores,” Peter said. As a result of doing the LTEM course, the Luberdas now regularly condition score their ewes, scan for multiples and feed them according to their pregnancy status. The conception rate of their ewes (including maidens) is 92% this year, with an impressive 60% of the wet ewes scanned as twins. Peter says this is one of the highest percentages his pregnancy scanner has ever scanned. “Our main profit driver has been to increase our ewes’ conception rate because that leads to increased numbers of lambs weaned and marked. I think it’s important to aim for high conception rates, or you’ll end up getting low numbers,” Peter said. “Pregnancy scanning has been very useful for us. It has allowed us to sell off barren ewes and concentrate on our productive ewes, so there are fewer mouths of unproductive ewes to feed. “We manage our twin bearing ewes differently than single bearing ewes by providing them with more and better quality feed, so all our ewes – whether multiples or singles – maintain a good body condition score. “We supplementary feed them accordingly with pasture hay, lupins, oats and barley. The benefits of extra lambs born and increased survival to marking, and ultimately more wool cut, outweighs any extra feed costs. Peter Luberda runs 2,200 Merino ewes near Esperance in WA. 50 ON FARM
In the Shops - September 2018