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Beyond the Bale : September 2011
September 2011 BEYOND THE BALE ON-FARM 23 Shearing and Woolhandling championships Current National Shearing Champion Shannon Warnest (right) in competition. board of the Sheep CRC means that he is intimately aware of the development of SNP chips and the role they will play in the sheep industry. "The use of genomics will be transformational in the sheep industry and I'm really excited about it. To think that we can increase the maximum rate of gain by another 20 to 30 per cent is fantastic," he says. Having stopped mulesing five years ago, Rob is particularly vigilant regarding worm control to prevent scouring. The flocks are constantly monitored for worm burdens and jetted every year. Drench resistance testing is conducted every three years to ensure efficacy in his drenching program. Rob has placed emphasis on the ASBV for worm resistance which has contributed to keeping worm burdens low. Currently Rob is content producing 19 micron wool rather than pushing to go finer. Instead, he is focussing his efforts on managing wool strength in a variable climate. With a stocking rate of 16 DSE, pasture management is taken seriously, giving pastures the same level of attention as the cropping enterprise. He reseeds 20-30 per cent of his pastures every year, generally with a grass variety due to good existing clover stands. A high amount of fertiliser is applied to promote additional growth. By grazing the wheat, barley and canola crops, the pastures benefit, with more time to recover between grazings. Being able to spread his flock across the entire farm during winter has also been the key to better lamb survival. "Three to four weeks out from lambing we split the ewes into mobs of 250 and spread them onto every paddock on the farm, including wheat and canola crops," he says. "We no longer scan our ewes because we found that we have 97 per cent conception and separating twin bearing ewes didn't reduce lamb mortality rates. In fact the only year we had a really good lambing percentage was the year when I left the twin bearing ewes in with the mob and we ran smaller mobs. In the future we might separate twin ewes and feed them appropriately and them put them back with the singles for lambing." Rob is firm in his opinion that the wool industry needs to better embrace the demands of consumers. "There is no doubting that it is a brilliant product to wear but consumers need consistency. They need to know that if they buy wool year after year it is always going to be comfortable against their skin." For the first time in 15 years, WA will host the National Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in 2011. It is the star event in a series of shearing and woolhandling competitions at this year's Perth Royal Show from 7-8 October that will demonstrate the art of shearing and woolhandling and showcase the many professionals involved in the industry. In addition to the Sports Shear Australia National Shearing and Woolhandling Championships, the event highlights will include the hotly contested Trans Tasman event between Australia and New Zealand; a Tri- Nation event involving Australia, New Zealand and South Africa; and a very competitive Western Australia versus New Zealand team event. The current National Shearing Champion Shannon Warnest will be shearing in Perth as a member of Australian team and hopefully attempting to defend his National title too. "This is the premier shearing event of the year, not just in Australia but also the whole southern hemisphere and will involve some of the best Merino shearers in the world," Shannon said. "The Nationals are always a very competitive affair with the best shearers and woolhandlers from each state battling it out for honours. With the Trans Tasman and Tri-Nations events also being held, the two days of competition are sure to include lots of top quality talent. "The shearers who participate in competition are setting a benchmark in quality of work. It is important that those entering the industry have a standard to aspire to. They deserve all the encouragement and support that can be given to them." The top shearers and woolhandlers at the Nationals will be rewarded by being selected for an Australian team to compete against New Zealand on 10-11 November in Christchurch, New Zealand. AWI is one of several sponsors of the shearing and woolhandling events at the Show. More information: www.perthroyalshow.com.au The events will be held in the Jim Horwood Pavilion at Claremont Showground. Entries close at 5.00pm on Friday 23 September 2011. Enquiries should be directed to the RAS of WA on (08) 6263 3169.