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Beyond the Bale : June August 2009
22 Wool pipeline Sheep reveal their climatic reSilience A pilot study in the NSW southern tablelands shows better-than-expected Merino resilience to the forecast rise in mean temperature associated with climate change The survival rates of newborn lambs would improve with a small rise in average temperatures across south-eastern Australia, and Merinos could be selectively bred to cope with slightly warmer climes. These are the early findings of a new AWI-funded project investigating the impact of climate change on wool production, aimed at providing producers with information for long-term planning. Using CSIRO’s GrassGro® decision-support tool, the project is investigating possible projections of the impact of expected climate changes on pasture and livestock productivity, and the scope for adapting to these changes via changes in the pasture base and livestock management. CSIRO’s Dr Andrew Moore says that using simulation models is the only way to study these future impacts and adaptation options. To ensure they have the right information to feed into the models, the project team from CSIRO and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has conducted literature reviews of changes in pasture and animal production under climate change. “Temperature and rainfall aren’t the only things changing – plants and animals respond to changes in temperature and moisture, and also directly to changes in carbon dioxide concentration,” Dr Moore says. Although sheep are likely to experience more heat stress in summer as a result of rising temperatures, they are also likely to experience less cold stress in winter. In particular, the cold stress on newborn lambs is likely to decrease. “Increased temperatures will improve animal performance during winter as sheep use a substantial amount of energy (through shivering) to maintain their body temperature, especially after shearing,” Dr Moore says. “So, for a couple of weeks each year – post shearing – we are likely to see an improvement in animal production.” For a typical area in the NSW southern tablelands, an increase of 2˚C would give an overall drop in mortality risk of five per cent, according to the LambAlive decision-support tool (see table below). lamb mortality rates at canberra hiStorical data 1044 Chill index (kJ/m2 Lamb deaths (%) average singles /h) 25 21 hiStorical data +2°c 1012 20 17 predicted mean lamb death rates over a 17-day period for a flock of merino ewes in average body condition and starting lambing on 1 august. “So, for people lambing at times of year where neonatal mortality is substantial due to cold and mismothering, it is a noticeable potential advantage of climate change,” Dr Moore says. However, selection for rams that are well adapted to increasing temperatures will become more important. A specific situation where heat stress might become an issue would be in an intensive situation, such as confinement feeding in drought, where animals need to be managed carefully to avoid heat stress. But, the other good news is that Merinos will probably also adapt quite well to an increase of a couple of degrees in temperature, along with Poll Dorsets, which are well adapted to hot climates. “As long as there are adequate shade trees, the conditions in southern Australia will not be any worse than rangelands sheep encounter now,” Dr Moore says. – robin taylor June – august 2009 Beyond the BAle Wool classers add value Sale lots classed by a registered wool classer can save woolgrowers up to 47 cents per clean kilogram, according to analysis by the Australian Wool Exchange international Wool textile organisation (iWto) Wool preparation categories. From 1 January 2008 only grower-sourced lots A classed by an aWeX-registered wool classer and meeting acceptable code of practice requirements have been eligible to be certified with a ‘p’ Wool preparation category. Farm lots not classed by an aWeX-registered wool classer, or that fail to meet wool-preparation standards, are allocated a ‘d’ Wool preparation category. the objective of the analysis was to determine statistical price differentials between these two categories. depending on micron, the statistical differential between p and d Wool preparation categories was up to 47 cents per clean kilogram. medium microns were in the order of 16 cents per kilogram clean, while the finer microns displayed larger differentials. the study was performed by aWeX senior market analyst lionel plunkett and dr tony Wohlers of Statistical investigations pty ltd on fleece wool offered for sale in all regions from august 2008 to 12 march 2009. “if we apply 47 cents per kilogram clean as a discount, this equates to approximately $57 per bale,” lionel plunkett says. “Sale lots that are poorly prepared will attract further discounts on top of this.” dr Wohlers says the analysis showed that lots offered with a d Wool preparation category bring clear discounts in the marketplace. “the results were highly significant statistically – the effect was recorded for all microns, and all regions displayed similar behaviour,” dr Wohlers says. “various statistical measures generated by the study all point to consistent and real differentials.” aWeX ceo mark Grave says wool classers play a vital role in providing a quality product and giving buyers confidence. “it is in all australian woolgrowers’ interest, regardless of breed or micron, to ensure australian wool is the first wool of global choice in terms of quality and preparation,” mark says. “Using untrained and unknown personnel to prepare wool places our reputation and our customers at risk, which can only result in diminished returns to all woolgrowers. “the message from these statistics is compelling: use a registered wool classer.” More information: Lionel Plunkett or Mark Grave, AWEX, 02 9428 6100, email@example.com WeX recently completed an analysis of the effect of changes to the definitions of the
April May 2009
September November 2009