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Beyond the Bale : December 2010
25 December 2010 BEYOND THE BALE ON-FARM by Dr Jason Trompf, of JT Agri-Source and Chair of the BESTWOOL/BESTLAMB network in Victoria, shows that producers have gained an average cumulative benefit of $50 per hectare. "That included increased numbers of lambs weaned ($23.90), stocking rate and ewe wool increases worth $18.70, reductions in ewe mortality ($5.70), and better wool from Merino lambs ($1.10)," Dr Trompf said. He says these gains are delivered through: lIncreasing progeny production: optimising lamb birth weights, lamb survival and growth rates and improving lifetime wool production and quality lMaintaining ewe production: wool quantity and quality, and rearing lambs every year lReducing ewe mortality: fewer lambing difficulties and health disorders lSaving feed: feed to individual requirements and provide flexibility for season impacts. However, he says the sheer importance of ewe condition score on flock performance cannot be understated. The LTEM principles point to a clear relationship between condition scores and conception rates, such that one condition score on average can make a difference of 20 lambs born per 100 ewes - see graph. During the recent Making More from Sheep forums, Dr Trompf promoted 'The Future Ewe'. "By really focusing on management and genetics, our 'future ewes' can provide us with more lambs, rapid lamb growth, high wool quality and carcase appeal, and easy care traits of less worms, flies, horns, chemicals and labour," Dr Trompf said. He says producers should consider directing their energies towards getting to know how ASBVs can be used as a way of simply obtaining these traits. "Breeds and bloodlines give us something to talk about, but traits that improve performance in the paddock make the money." His blueprint for building these 'future' Merino and maternal ewes is to use ASBVs for weaning percentage, carcase traits, wool traits (fleece weight, fibre diameter, staple strength and length) mature ewe size, worm resistance and growth rate. More information: Producers interested in linking up with LTEM or joining a group should contact: Kerri Ross at RIST: 0400 062 054 or firstname.lastname@example.org for group formation, and Darren Gordon 0408 114 656 or email@example.com for technical information. productivity gain l Know the nutritional needs of the flock l Pregnancy scan to allocate feed resources to the right animals l Aim to set and maintain condition score targets l At joining select twin lambing paddocks l In good seasons, keep weight off the singles l Wean lambs 12-14 weeks after the start of lambing (6 weeks) so the ewe can get CS back on prior to joining l Develop an annual ewe management program. KEY LTEM PRINCIPLES: LAMBS BORN (PER 100 EWES) EWE CONDITION SCORE AT JOINING 601 2 3 4 5 80 100 120 140 160 20 extra lambs per 100 ewes for an increase of one condition score The Lifetime Ewe Management program developed from the lifetimewool project. The lifetimewool project, through extensive research and demonstration, produced critical new understanding of ewe management and production in southern Australia. The project generated three key points of new knowledge: l Whole farm profit is sensitive to the changes in ewe condition throughout the year. l Production from ewes and their progeny can be predicted from knowledge of ewe condition during the breeding cycle. l Condition scoring is a quick reliable method to measure ewe condition for managing to condition score targets. The project also confirmed that the effects of ewe nutrition during pregnancy on the progeny are permanent over the progeny's lifetime. The lifetimewool guidelines developed by the project take the form of optimum condition score profiles, developed for five regions across southern Australia for a number of lambing times and pasture systems. Economic analysis using the new knowledge quantified the impacts of missing condition score targets at key times -- particularly joining and lambing. Economic analysis also identified that contrary to previous recommendations, optimum condition score at lambing is the most important target to achieve, more so than the joining target, from both a production and profitability perspective. By following the guidelines developed by the project, growers potentially could increase their profit from $0.70 to $5.20 per ewe. lifetimewool was funded and supported by Australian wool producers through AWI, state government agencies and farm businesses. More information: The www.lifetimewool.com.au website provides ewe management guidelines, downloads of popular tools and contacts for further details.