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Beyond the Bale : December 2010
19 December 2010 BEYOND THE BALE ON-FARM Despite facing a bleak spring production season, sheep producers across Western Australia are better prepared for the months ahead after a series of Dry Season Strategy Workshops run by the AWI state network The Sheep's Back. The workshops helped producers plan for the summer and explore actions that will be required to ensure that sheep not only survive the summer but finish at the start of the new season in an appropriate condition. Training in managing feed availability and condition scoring of sheep was provided. Bill and Anne Cleland, of Beverley WA, said the workshop that they attended gave farmers an opportunity to share their experiences with others. "In a season such as this, there are plenty of strategies and options, it is just a matter of analysing these and acting appropriately," Anne said. "One of the key messages from the meeting was the necessity to manage our ewes for next year's mating, and the provision of some strategies to do this. The Sheep's Back provided historical and forecast feed on offer information at a district level, and if there was any doubt that stocking rates needed reviewing, this quickly abated." Dry Season Strategy Workshops have been held at Tambellup, Woodanilling, Brookton, Corrigin and Boyup Brook with 120 participants. Of these, 80 per cent left the meeting understanding the current and future feed on offer across their property. Over 60 per cent of the attendees were under the age of 50 and the average flock size of those attending was just over 6000. Three quarters of those who attended the workshops left the day feeling confident they could deal with the situation and 94 per cent said the meeting assisted in their planning. In addition, displays were set up and individual discussions regarding dry season response were conducted at field days at Dowerin, Newdigate and Mingenew with 75 participants. The Sheep's Back coordinator Ed Riggall says, the spring production season is tight following a false break and poor winter rain, and getting lambs to sale weights and ewes into good joining condition for next year needs to be thought through and planned now. "In many ways we are in uncharted waters as poor seasons are generally defined by a late start rather than a poor winter/spring so we have to plan now to manage how we want our farms looking in March next year," Mr Riggall said. There is plenty of help on hand for those still looking for assistance to plan ahead and reduce current and future stress on their business and family. In conjunction with the WA Government's Dry Season Advisory Committee, the Sheep's Back is holding another series of dry season field days -- the first was held at Koorda in the Northern Wheatbelt. The day comprises a farm audit of water and feed, a sheep audit and training in condition scoring. A spreadsheet is used to look at what happens over summer to sheep condition and the property, with the ability for woolgrowers to test options for dealing with the situation. "The Sheep's Back is getting in early to help producers in the west plan for and cope with the tough times," Mr Riggall said. "Failing to plan is planning to fail. Surviving the dry season is all about having the right plans and skills to be able to manage your enterprise effectively. "These workshops are helping woolgrowers develop those skills and the ability to determine how they want to manage their stock over summer to have them in the condition they want by the time next season breaks. "With sheep at such high prices there are many different options -- selling sheep is only one of them." More information: Ed Riggall 0428 299 007, firstname.lastname@example.org FAST FACTS l AWI state network The Sheep's Back has organised workshops for sheep producers in Western Australia to help them manage feed, water and stock in response to the dry season. l The workshops provide training in feed availability and condition scoring sheep. l Further field days have been organised in conjunction with the WA Government's Dry Season Advisory Committee. Dry season training for WA AWI STATE NETWORKS AWI state networks provide opportunities for woolgrowers and producers to make changes to their production and management practices. To learn more about how you can get involved, call the coordinator in your state/region: GROWER NETWORK GROUP COORDINATOR PHONE EMAIL The Sheep's Back (WA) Bob Hall (08) 9736 1055 email@example.com Leading Sheep (Qld) Tony Hamilton (07) 4688 1270 firstname.lastname@example.org Sheep Connect NSW Michelle Anderson (02) 6391 3954 email@example.com BESTWOOL/BESTLAMB (Vic) Lyndon Kubiel (03) 5761 1649 firstname.lastname@example.org Sheep Connect SA Ian McFarland (08) 8226 0428 email@example.com Sheep Connect TAS Warre n Hunt (03) 6336 5464 firstname.lastname@example.org Bestprac (Pastoral) Carlyn Sherrif (08) 8842 1103 csherri @ruraldirections.com More information: To find out about the recent activities of the AWI state networks, read the latest edition of The Network's News newsletter at www.wool.com/networks