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Beyond the Bale : September 2013
33 33 September 2013 BEYOND THE BALE ON-FARM Doug Hart, Peter Groat, Tom Groat, and Richard Argent-Smith of the Rankin Springs – Lake Cargelligo LTEM group inspecting a vetch crop paddock on Richard Argent-Smith’s property. Ewes and lambs have been running on this paddock. Mr Hart also had mixed age mobs that were in two different paddocks. One mob was supplementary fed all the way through lambing and had an 80 per cent marking percentage. The other mob had sufficient pasture up to three weeks into lambing when they started to be supplementary fed, and had a marking percentage of 100 per cent. This comparison highlights the potential mismothering and lamb losses that occur due to both lack of paddock feed and the disruption when the feed cart comes out when the bulk of lambs are hitting the ground (first three weeks of lambing). Mr Hart plans to split his ewe mobs into heavier and lighter condition groups rather than age groups to allow the lighter ewes an opportunity to put on more weight prior to the 2014 joining. “LTEM does not fix everything at once; it is about fine tuning our systems and gradually expanding the management and technology changes across the whole flock and farm,” he said. “The positive thing about LTEM is you see the sheep and pastures over time. We need to make our decisions based on what we have in front of us, pasture and livestock condition – this is not going to be the same each year or season. The LTEM program helps us to be adaptable and the group discussions and interaction is great.” More information: www.wool.com/LTEM If you are interested in learning more about LTEM and participating in a course in your local area contact Priscilla Cuming, the LTEM Administration Officer at the Rural Industries Skill Training (RIST), on (03) 5573 0943 or firstname.lastname@example.org Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) is a nationally accredited, two-year course, developed and run by RIST (Rural Industries Skill Training) and supported by AWI. LTEM training provides hands-on on-farm training for small groups of producers (average five), under the guidance of a professional facilitator, in the management and nutrition of breeding ewes to maximise reproduction efficiency. Each participant monitors a mob of their own ewes to demonstrate the effects of nutrition and management in their environment. LTEM is structured to maximise the retention of knowledge, development of skills and practice change across a number of key areas, including: Weaning and preparing ewes for next year’s joining Setting up for joining: when and what to feed ewes to optimise ewe condition Linking ewe condition at joining with lambing potential Mid-pregnancy: managing nutrition for single and twin lamb survival Late pregnancy: optimising lamb survival and the future wool production of progeny Economic analysis of different feeding strategies. On-going evaluation of LTEM group members continues to show significant benefits to participants through improving net reproduction rate. Lamb marking percentage increased by an average of 11 per cent; the number of lambs weaned increased by 15 per cent, and ewe mortality decreased by 44 per cent. In the 2012/13 financial year, 39 AWI-funded groups completed LTEM; 53 groups commenced training in all states. In total AWI funding has supported 120 groups completing LTEM training. Strong demand for LTEM training continues. LIFETIME EWE MANAGEMENT TRAINING Doug Hart weighing and condition scoring maiden Merino ewes: “The improvement in lambing percentage in my Merino maiden ewes was outstanding.”