HOW TO USE THIS ONLINE MAGAZINE
by clicking the arrows at the side of the page.
by clicking anywhere on the page. A slider will appear, allowing you to adjust your zoom level.
and move the page around when zoomed in by dragging the page.
and return to the original size by clicking on the page again.
by entering text in the search field and click on "In This Issue" or "All Issues" to search the current issue or the archive of back issues
a PDF of this magazine.
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
a page via email, Facebook, Twitter and more.
TO VIEW PREVIOUS EDITIONS
, click the
button at the bottom of the screen.
Beyond the Bale : December 2018
ON FARM 45 Working as a qualified sheep scanner for the past 10 years has also been beneficial for Ben to recognise the importance of ewe fertility and breeding viability. Every ewe in the Banks family’s flock is pregnancy scanned, electronically tagged and separated into single and twin mobs at the beginning of January. Having previously been spring lambers, Ben has re-worked their breeding schedule to start lambing in early March, after joining occurs over a six-week period in early October. The Banks family’s shearing schedule has also been adjusted and they are currently shearing every ten months to shift it from May to late August/early September. This coincides with the new joining period, giving the ewes a month off the board to improve their condition before joining in October. In an average to good year, the Banks’ Merino flock produces an average of 5kg of wool from mature sheep, 2.5kg from lambs and filling anywhere between 4-500 bales per year. Based on current wool values, this brings a gross of $60 per head on 10-month shearing. Traditionally, they produce wool around 18-19 micron, but the recent droughts have caused Ben to adjust that also. “Following the recent dry years, we have had to buy in so many different genetics that has prompted us to do some corrective mating, with the aim of breeding a 20-21 micron ewe,” he said. “I want to straighten all that out by breeding more Merino ewes with a consistent wool type.” WILD DOG EXCLUSION FENCING A GAME CHANGER It wasn’t only the Banks family who came close to losing their Merino flock two years ago, as the devastating combination of drought and wild dogs was taking a widespread toll on all Western Queensland sheep producers. In 2015, Ben and his family made the decision to protect their sheep by spending almost $400,000 of their own funds to install 75km of wild dog-proof fences along their property, and since then other producers and the government have joined the fight, establishing more than 1,000km of fences. In the initial lambing periods since the fence was completed in mid-2016, Ben has seen a huge increase in lamb survival, with a minimum of 10% increase attributed to less predator deaths. They have marked 4,000 lambs already this year, and with this minimum increase of 10%, or 400 lambs, working on current values of approximately $75 per head, the fence attributes an instant $60,000 additional return. It’s the first proper lamb marking the Banks family has had in six years, with another 3,000 lambs to be marked, out of imported ewe lines that lambed later in the season. Ben believes the fence has become a lifeline for livestock producers in their area, with the benefits immediately evident, and he hopes it only continues to grow and strengthen local flock numbers. “We would be out of sheep by now if we hadn’t put our fence up, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “The wild dog problem was so bad it was all anyone could talk about for a couple of years. But now with the help of government funding for the fences, there’s been an immediate shift. “It’s been a game changer for the sheep industry here, only two years ago sheep were almost extinct in Western Queensland due to drought and dogs. “But now, after travelling around with my scanning business, I have seen an instant improvement, with more sheep flowing back into Western Queensland. “Our sheep are happy and content again without a fear of dogs, and now with a bit of grass and water around, all things are pointing towards a positive outlook for our Merino flock.” MORE INFORMATION www.merinos.com.au
In the Shops - March 2019