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Beyond the Bale : June 2011
June 2011 BEYOND THE BALE 26 ON-FARM FAST FACTS l The Lifetime Ewe Management program enables woolgrowers to better understand ewe nutrition and management. l LTEM participants in Victoria have increased their whole-farm stocking rates by 14 per cent and lamb marking percentages by 11 to 13 per cent depending on enterprise type; annual ewe mortality rates fell by 43 per cent. l The estimated dollar benefits from LTEM -- in terms of increases in number of lambs weaned per hectare and reduced ewe mortality -- exceed $10/ewe/year. "Their estimated dollar benefits from LTEM - in terms of increases in number of lambs weaned per hectare and reduced ewe mortality - exceed $10/ewe/year." Facilitated by Rural Industries Skill Training (RIST) and supported by the Sheep CRC and AWI, the basic ingredients that LTEM participants repeatedly practice to achieve production targets are: • condition scoring • pasture quantity and quality assessment • feed budgeting. Dr Trompf says the appeal of the LTEM program is largely due to the small group model that is used. Woolgrowers are on to a winner with the innovative Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) program. Not only are woolgrowers reaping very large gains in productivity by managing ewes to condition score targets and increasing stocking rates, but a new study has found that the delivery model is also earning praise as a way of achieving industry-wide outcomes. LTEM assists sheep producers to improve their understanding of ewe nutrition and management. The course is small group-based, with about 500 producers currently involved in near 100 LTEM groups nationally. Between 2006 and by the end of 2010, more than 220 sheep producers -- that manage near a million ewes -- had completed the LTEM program, and LTEM consultant Dr Jason Trompf and colleagues have studied its impacts. The survey findings are, simply, huge. "We looked at the changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, management practices and aspirations of 182 sheep producers in Victoria who've participated in the two-year program so far," he said. "LTEM participants increased their whole-farm stocking rates by 14 per cent and lamb marking percentages by 11 to 13 per cent depending on enterprise type; and decreased annual ewe mortality rates by 43 per cent. "Basically, these improvements were consistent regardless of year, region and how innovative participants were at the beginning of the program. "This sees producers in a district working with their flocks though the entire reproduction cycle under the hands-on guidance of a skilled local facilitator. "We believe the design of the LTEM program provides a blueprint for future extension programs striving to achieve widespread practice change." The model clearly involves a 'user-pays' aspect, where farmers make a significant time and financial contribution to the program, which is shown to provide added incentive to optimise learnings. He adds that it's also addressing a national imperative. "The Australian sheep flock has declined Lifetime Ewe Management provides Condition scoring training. PHOTO: CHRIS SHANDS I&I NSW