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Beyond the Bale : September 2013
ON-FARM 32 ON-FARM Doug Hart of “Merrylands”, at Lake Cargelligo in Central West NSW, was one of five producers who signed up for the Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) course when a LTEM group started in the Rankin Springs – Lake Cargelligo area in February 2012. In the first year, he improved the lambing percentage in his Merino maiden ewes from 65 per cent to 110 per cent. “One of my main issues that I wanted to focus on with the LTEM course was improving our maiden ewe weaning percentages,” Mr Hart said. “We had been experiencing issues with predation, pigs September 2013 BEYOND THE BALE Doug Hart and Peter Groat of the Rankin Springs – Lake Cargelligo LTEM group condition scoring maiden Merino ewes. FAST FACTS l The Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) program being run across Australia enables woolgrowers to better understand ewe nutrition and to develop a successful and productive animal production system. l Woolgrower Doug Hart of the Rankin Springs – Lake Cargelligo LTEM group in central west NSW improved the lambing percentage in his Merino maiden ewes from 65 per cent in 2011 to 110 per cent in 2012. l Mr Hart attributes this increase to the ewes being on a paddock that had excellent pasture growth and a safer paddock in relation to pig predation. The Rankin Springs – Lake Cargelligo LTEM group has five producer members, in an approximately 100km radius of one another, managing 20,000 hectares and running 9,000 sheep. They all run slightly different operations, however they have a common goal: to improve their breeding ewe flocks’ reproduction performance. The group is managed and led by consultant Sally Martin who delivers the technical and practical skills of the LTEM course. At each meeting the group inspects at least two mobs of sheep and paddocks (pasture or crop) and has discussions around the seasonal conditions, livestock requirements and how they can be managed using the principles of LTEM. At the beginning of the course each group member was asked what they would like to improve. Responses ranged from improving weaning percentages in maiden ewes, reducing ewe mortality during lambing and increasing weaner growth and survival. In 2013, Mr Hart was not able to achieve as good a result as he had in 2012, however it was still better than before the LTEM course. “The season cut out quickly for us this year,” Mr Hart explained. “The pasture we assessed in February 2013 for lambing went very quickly due to the lack of rain and hot temperatures. We started having to feed prior to lambing and then the ewes had to be moved when the feed cut out. We managed to mark 87 per cent, which is still up on our long term average.” LTEM helps deliver 110% lambing percentage and foxes, which had resulted in lambing percentages of around 55-65 per cent. These figures are unsustainable for my business.” Over a 12 month period the LTEM group monitored their own ewe condition and assessed and discussed pasture and paddock allocation based on the ewes’ requirements for each property. A number of group members started pregnancy scanning moving from pregnant or not pregnant (wet/dry) to singles and twins. This has given more flexibility with decision making when it comes to paddock allocation and supplementary feeding requirements. “I was able to implement changes that we had learnt in the LTEM course with my maiden ewe mob in 2012,” Mr Hart said. “We were able to allocate the better pasture paddocks to the maidens. The paddock the maidens were allocated was also known to have less predation issues. “The improvement in lambing percentage in my Merino maiden ewes was outstanding. We went from 65 per cent in 2011 to 110 per cent in 2012.” Mr Hart attributes this increase to the ewes being on a paddock that had excellent pasture growth and a safer paddock in relation to pig predation. LTEM courses are being run across Australia and are now becoming established in NSW. The Rankin Springs – Lake Cargelligo group was initiated by John Sutherland of Pooginook Merino Stud, who embarked on assisting clients interested in improving the reproduction performance of their flocks.