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Beyond the Bale : Jun 07 - Jul 07
doing more work on organic wool, as are other members of the group. When I was overseas on the Nuffield tour, organic wool and cotton were in demand everywhere. In every country I went to, particularly countries like Japan and the UK, organics are the big thing." He points out that the EU is becoming particularly tough on residue levels in wool, which means a great opportunity for organic wool. "The country around here is ideal for organic production as we don't have intensive cropping, and parasites are not a huge problem, so you can produce a quality animal and fleece while complying with organic practice. If there is anywhere in the world ideal for growing organic produce it is out here in western NSW. It's a clean, green environment and sheep thrive in it." ú More information: Garry Hannigan, 08 8091 6498, firstname.lastname@example.org 5 BESTPRAC PROGRAM BEYOND THE BALE Forum brims with enthusiasm By Emma Leonard "Those who didn't attend really missed out ... Good to have the wool industry talking to each other in such a positive way ... A fantastic concept ... " These were just some of the enthusiastic comments by woolgrowers who attended the South Australian Bestprac Forum held near Hawker recently. About 80 people, including producers from several states and industry representatives, met for two days to hear about the application and development of technologies that are advancing all sectors of the wool production and marketing chain. Individual animal management was at the core of several presentations. Queensland woolgrower Stuart Mitchell, of 'Cashel Vale', believes technology that enables on-farm assessment of fibre diameter and electronic identification (ID) are the best changes to ever happen to the Australian wool industry. In his presentation he explained how he uses electronic ID, automated drafting and weigh scales and individual fleece testing to help him manage animals as individuals rather than as a flock, for delivering a product that meets market specifications. "Recording starts early, with lambs tagged at three weeks old according to sire groups, and at the same time any faults such as pigment patches are recorded," Stuart says. "Before shearing, all sheep are graded individually to tops, flocks and culls.These are auto-drafted into groups before entering the shed, where the RFID electronic ID tag is read and two barcoded labels are produced -- one to go with the fleece and the other with the mid-side sample, which is then tested using the OFDA2000 system for fibre diameter assessment." Ben Carn gave a presentation on his use of telemetry technology to remotely manage his stock water. He reported that the system gives him peace of mind and his stock an assured water supply, and also saves the time and fuel of an 80- kilometre round trip to check stock water. Ben was particularly interested in the use of electronic ID and the remote drafting system based on walk-over scales located in line with the watering point. The system could be set up to automatically draft sheep below a determined weight into a feed yard. "Ultimately, I believe technology offers our industry many solutions for the problems we face, especially in pastoral areas," says Ben, who runs 5000 head on 8,100 hectares at 'Wootoona Pastoral', Quorn. "The forum was a great opportunity to learn how producers from other states are managing in the drought and to share in their energy and enthusiasm was wonderful. If future Bestprac forums are held interstate I would go, as they are a great place to gain a wider perspective on the industry and to learn from other producers." Jane Luckraft, of 'Bendleby Pastoral', Orroroo, SA, says: "I gain so much from these forums.They are an opportunity to learn about new technology and innovations. I was particularly impressed with the information on the alternative mulesing methods -- the intra-dermal needleless injector and the clips.We are now going to be involved with the on-farm trial." Others took heart from the presentation by Rod Williams, CEO of Driza-Bone®, about the Driza-Bone® ActivTM range of clothing made from Merino wool. Producers were encouraged to learn that innovative Merino-based products that meet consumer demands are being delivered to the market. Ian Warnes, of 'Woolgangi Station', Burra, SA, summed up the comments from many of the participants: "This forum has been excellent -- hearing what is happening in Queensland and NSW, and the innovations they are using, the networking has been really good.This is what Bestprac is all about -- new ideas and innovations." Garry Hannigan of 'Churinga', Wilcannia, NSW. The Bestprac focus With joint funding from AWI and Meat and Livestock Australia, Bestprac involves a network of producer groups from across the pastoral zone of Australia.Through benchmarking, Bestprac groups focus thinking and action on projects that can benefit a pastoral sheep business. Bestprac is based on the management assumption that 'practice follows planning'.Through benchmarking, participants identify projects of potential high value. Groups then provide mentoring support for implementation and action. Evaluation from the first phase of the project suggested that 80 per cent of Bestprac group members have made positive changes to on-farm management practices and close to 15 per cent have reported increased profits as a direct result of the program. More information: David Heinjus, Bestprac national coordinator, 08 8842 1103, email@example.com PHOTO: KELLIE PENFOLD
Jun 07 - Jul 07 Supplement
Apr 07 - May 07