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Beyond the Bale : December 2010
To many it's a mystery, yet the secret is out: the reproductive potential of ewes can be unlocked with some understanding of her needs, and a little hands-on attention. Sheep producers across the country are joining small, local, focused 'Lifetime Ewe Management' (LTEM) training workshops to better manage their flock's reproduction cycle to increase production. With access to the FarmReady program, the net cost of the course to producers is $400. To date, more than 600 specialist woolgrowers and mixed farmers with four million ewes have joined the program. And the figures tell the story: participants have improved the number of lambs weaned per hectare by between 15 and 30 per cent. The Sheep CRC and its partners, including AWI, are running the LTEM workshops through Rural Industries Skills Training (RIST). More than 30 sheep industry specialists from all states are involved as workshop facilitators. RIST LTEM Program leader Darren Gordon says production gains have been achieved in a number of ways. "Essentially, LTEM links management actions with critical stages of the ewe's reproductive cycle. We're seeing that producers are realising their ewe flock's potential by optimising stocking rates and weaning more lambs per hectare," Mr Gordon says. "Feedback tells us that 100 per cent of producers recommend the program to other producers. "There is little more satisfying to a sheep producer than seeing an excellent lamb drop and weaning rates, year in year out. We aim to give producers the latest skills to achieve this." The LTEM course involves groups of five producers; it focuses specifically on nutrition issues associated with the ewe and develops skills in condition scoring, pasture assessment and feed budgeting. Six meetings are held over a 12-month weaning-to-weaning cycle, and each producer follows a monitor mob of their own ewes to see the effects of nutrition. Analysis of two years of LTEM activities FAST FACTS l The Lifetime Ewe Management program enables woolgrowers to better understand ewe nutrition. l Participants in the program have improved the number of lambs weaned per hectare by between 15 and 30 per cent. l The value of productivity changes has averaged $50 per hectare in Victoria. Unlocking ewe potential increases 24 ON-FARM Victorian producers Peter Hayes, Russell Mitchell and James Peddy condition scoring ewes as part of a LTEM on-farm workshop. December 2010 BEYOND THE BALE