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Beyond the Bale : Dec 08 - Jan 09
Managing flystrike BEYOND THE BALE 7 PHOTO: MELISSA MARINO BREECH STRIKE RISK MANAGEMENT STOCK SELECTION l Active selection against excessive wrinkle over many decades l Selection on confirmation traits such as ‘devil’s grip’ l Any ewes that get breech or body strike are culled l Sheep showing excessive signs of dermatitis are culled Richard Gee showing the breech of one of his plain-bodied Saxon Merinos. management across Tasmania, says the Gees have succeeded in not mulesing through a combination of good selection as well as well-timed husbandry for their environment. “It’s nothing extraordinary,” Richard says. “We haven’t come up with some new whiz-bang idea. It’s just physically monitoring the flock and having some strategies in place.” Richard also credits the local environment and topography with providing natural risk-management strategies. The flock’s modest diet of native pasture is not only ideal for growing superfine wool, it also reduces the risk of scouring that can come with lusher pasture. And although drought continues to hurt production, the generally dry conditions have also reduced risk. Richard says that on the rare occasion a sheep is flystruck, it is culled to maintain the integrity of the flock. Although they are yet to see any significant market advantage by not mulesing, the Gees believe that could soon change. “The only real market advantage that I can see at the moment is one of the wool buyers offering a $100 bonus per bale for un-mulesed wool,” Richard says. “It’s good to see something coming from that end of the market to encourage people and, while $100 a bale doesn’t sound a lot, it is a nice little incentive.” Richard says the quality of their wool has not been compromised by their management decisions. In fact, he says, quality has always come first. “Our first priority has been wool selection, and when we’ve assessed the sheep that we’ve selected, it’s been the more wrinkly ones that have been culled out. “Bright, soft, fine, white wool has been our primary focus and we’ve balanced that with wrinkle.” More information: Richard Gee, firstname.lastname@example.org See over for Case study 2 STOCK MANAGEMENT l Run ewes in low-risk parts of the farm (that is, away from river flats) in times of high flystrike risk l Shearing in early to mid-November l Shearing lambs at weaning (December/ January) in average season l Crutching all ewes pre-lamb in July l Additional crutching or chemical protection treatment in autumn only if increased risk due to high rainfall l Generally very low reliance on chemical treatments l Lambing mid-August to end of September l Marking late October
February March 2009
Oct - Nov 08