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Beyond the Bale : December 2013
Woolgrower Simon Wheaton from ’Redbanks’ in the Haines area of Kangaroo Island, South Australia is one of more than 10,000 Australian sheep producers who have participated in the Making More from Sheep program over the past five years. The Making More from Sheep program – a joint initiative of AWI and MLA – is a best practice package of information and tools for sheep producers supported by a range of events and workshops. Simon is a member of his local Making More from Sheep group and has attended several of the program’s events. “Making More from Sheep events that I attended were fantastic. They gave me some hard evidence to back up our gut feeling on a lot of things, and also the tools to be able to assess things accurately and from that make reasonable management decisions,” Simon said. “The program has provided some solid information to drive my next step in the farming enterprise, from being a glorified labourer to a bit more of a serious manager.” Simon, with his wife Eloise and father Barry, run about 1450 hectares of land at ’Redbanks’. They shear around the 9000 mark in Merinos each year, and they expect about 500mm of rain each year. “We’ve made a few management changes around here because of our work with the Making More from Sheep events, mainly to change from a set stocking system to a more rotational style system Making More from Sheep so that the sheep can thrive more and the ground will produce more palatable grass for the sheep to eat. “Through one of the events that I attended there was also a fair bit of talk about spray grazing which entails trying to reduce your less desirable species of grasses and encourage the ones that you are looking for more. “There was quite a lot of Capeweed on our property that was smothering the grasses out, but spray grazing has greatly reduced the Capeweed resulting in a thick even distribution of clover and grasses coming through.” GROUP FACILITATION Veterinarian Greg Johnsson, who is the Making More from Sheep group facilitator, said attending Making More from Sheep sessions really assists sheep producers to have better a understanding of what they’re trying to do in the paddock. “We concentrate very heavily on making sure that farmers are able to assess pastures – quality and amount – and have a good understanding of their sheep requirements, so they can understand what’s required to supplement the feed that’s available,” Greg said. “There are always benefits in getting farmers together into a group to discuss local issues. I think it’s also important that those groups contain some outside expertise that can help to bring some other answers or solutions to the discussion. But there’s no doubt that when farmers get together and talk, in the end the technology transfer that comes out of that is beneficial to everybody.” MANAGEMENT MODULES The centrepiece of Making More from Sheep is a set of recently updated management modules that can be found on the Making More from Sheep website. These modules – which can be categorised under the headings: business, resources and pasture, and sheep technology – are based on industry research and development from the past 20 years and include input from leading sheep producers. Funding for the Making More from Sheep program will run through to 2015. More information: www.makingmorefromsheep.com.au View a video of Simon talking about his experience with Making More from Sheep on the AWI YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/awiwoolproduction FAST FACTS l By adopting innovations from the Making More from Sheep program, woolgrower Simon Wheaton from Kangaroo Island has improved his farm management and turned more pasture into product. l The joint AWI and MLA program focuses on the key decisions that make a difference to the profitability and sustainability of sheep enterprises. l More than 10,000 Australian sheep producers have participated in the program over the past five years. Woolgrower Simon Wheaton, with his wife Eloise, from Kangaroo Island, South Australia, has benefited from participation in the Making More from Sheep program. SELLING MORE WOOL 36 ON-FARM December 2013 BEYOND THE BALE