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Beyond the Bale : Aug - Sep 08
8 PRoDucTiviTy Beyond The Bale innovation lightens crutching load a portable crutching machine developed in new Zealand could be a boon for australian woolgrowers and contractors. aWi wool harvesting manager Joe Sullivan says the ‘crutchmaster’ mobile crutching trailer, developed by Wayne Perkins of Perkinz, is unlike anything else on the market. “it only has two moving parts and it makes crutching very easy,” Mr Sullivan says. “The crutching table mechanism and the way the sheep are restrained are very novel.” The crutchmaster also boasts an impressive operating speed: the record is 5410 crossbred lambs in eight hours with a three-stand module. Ted Perkins, one of the australian distributors, along with a learner shearer in south-west victoria, recently crutched 595 Merinos in a two-hour run, equivalent to 2380 sheep a day for a two-stand unit, or 1190 for one person. “We will be looking at averaging 2500 to 3000 a day, once the learner gets the gist of it,” Mr Perkins says. Mr Sullivan says this sort of productivity has rarely been seen before. With the prospect of a shortage of shearers in australia and the use of double crutching as a management tool for non-mulesed sheep, aWi is keen to encourage innovative solutions such as the crutchmaster. other features of the machine include a novel anti-backing device, using brushes along the edges of the race, which stops sheep from stepping back, and a decoy sheep that encourages Easy tool to estimate residues The targeted use of chemicals can help in preventing flystrike. However,as woolgrowers consider chemical control measures as part of their plan to prevent flystrike, it can be difficult to predict the residue that will be left in wool at the next shearing after such external parasite treatments. aWi’s program manager for animal health Dr Johann Schröder explains that, at times, growers find it hard to estimate the value of applying a treatment – especially close to shearing – versus jeopardising marketing opportunities for the clip, such as the Eu Eco-label. Growers also have to weigh up the risk of not applying any chemical, but accepting the losses caused by the parasite infestation. He recommends growers take time to visit aWi’s liceboss website and look at the WoolRes tool there. The tool estimates the expected pesticide residue on wool at shearing after the application of common flystrike and lice treatments. To get to WoolRes, start at www.liceboss.com.au and click on the ‘WoolRes’ tab to get to the main screen, where you enter details of treatments used. Entering a ‘Mob name’ is optional and only needed if you want to print the result and relate it later to a specific mob. you need to indicate your state because the rate of breakdown of the pesticides depends on the climate. Enter the date the mob was last shorn, the date they were, or will be, treated and when they will next be shorn after the treatment. Select a method of treatment from the drop-down list, then the actual product used from the product drop-down list. you must select method before product. (Spray-on treatments are in the backliner list.) Managing the mob with oFFM For more than 20 years South australian woolgrowers Mark and Terry noonan have been using on-farm fibre measurement (oFFM) on their property near Jamestown. Their overall objectives with oFFM have been to reduce micron, aid the production of a more even clip and, ultimately, increase their return from wool production. To achieve this Mark and Terry began testing their ‘Ramsyn’ bloodline ewe hoggets to identify and cull low- returning, higher-micron animals. by testing ewes as hoggets and culling undesirable animals they were able to accelerate genetic gain by ensuring that these ewes were not joined in the general breeding program. The testing process originally involved cutting fleece samples in the race (side sampling), matching these samples with ear tag numbers and sending these samples to an oFFM testing facility for analysis using the Sirolan-laserscan™ or oFDa100.However, this method did not suit their management program and the convenience of conducting the testing process on-farm led them to seek out an oFFM Quality assurance (oFFM-Qa) accredited mobile operator. “Even though our flock micron was gradually fining up and our variation across lines was lower due to the laboratory oFFM testing, we felt that we could extend the application of the technology to include other breeding objectives by using an on-farm service provider and electronic ear tags,” Mark says. They contacted cousins Merino Services (cMS), an oFFM-Qa accredited operator equipped to undertake the entire process on-farm using electronic identification and the oFDa2000. “using cMS on farm has made fibre testing so much quicker and easier,” Mark says. “We are confident that the results are accurate due to the Qa accreditation and the electronic iD of animals gives us peace of mind that the results haven’t been mixed up. it’s also meant we can take other measurements into account when culling, such as body and fleece weight. it’s worth every dollar.” This year 750 ewe hoggets were tested on the property in early January. Micron and body weight were measured. Each sheep was electronically ear-tagged and another visual tag was added according to their micron range, creating four clear lines: less than 19.5 microns, 19.6 to 21 microns, 21.1 to 22.5 microns and 22.5 to 30 microns (culls). This information was captured and processed on-farm using software supplied by cMS. according to Mark’s breeding objectives – to reduce micron and increase body and fleece weight – one third of the poorer-performing ewes were easily identified and drafted for culling using the automated computer program and electronic ear tags. one month after crutching, the tested ewes were drafted according to cull status and micron range. all sheep were then shorn according to micron range, minimising cross contamination from the various lines in the shed, and fleece weights were recorded. Following shearing, and taking into account all data gathered, the culls were immediately drafted using a computerised draft race supplied by cMS and sold to a pre- arranged buyer. The remaining ewes were flocked with their older sisters of the same micron range. by using oFFM Mark and Terry have been able to: ú selectively cull to decrease micron without sacrificing body and fleece weight; ú accelerate genetic gain; ú minimise micron ranges within lines; ú maximise clip returns; and ú make clip preparation easier. and how is the oFFM and oFFM-Qa accredited operator going? “So far, so good,” Mark says. “When the wool price is down you wonder if it’s worthwhile, but when it picks up i think it helps me get a little more for my clip and i know i am getting the flock and the clip lines as even as possible. “i know i don’t have the best wool in australia, but i know i am doing what i can to get the best price for it.” More information:www.wooloffm.com.au; australian Wool exchange, 03 9318 0277 you can then select a pesticide residue target from the drop-down list, or you can write in your own target if you have one for a specific market. use the Eco-label target if no other specific target is applicable. click the ‘calculate’ button to work out the expected pesticide residue in the wool at next shearing and the probability that you will exceed the specified target. Pesticide breakdown depends on a range of factors, not all of which can be considered here, so the result will show as an average and a fairly wide range of possible values. “it is not always possible to be certain that the result will be above or below a specified limit, but the result is an indication of risk,” Dr Schröder adds. More information:www.liceboss.com.au ú Two-stand crutchmaster in operation. them to enter the race. The system is available as one, two, three or four-stand modules and can be purchased as either a stationary or mobile unit. Ted Perkins says the one or two-stand modules would suit individual woolgrowers, especially those who do crutching in paddocks, while the three and four-stand modules would be suitable for contractors. More information:www.perkinz.co.nz, Ted Perkins, 03 5571 1176; Chris Brooker, 08 8762 4191 – Robin TayloR ú
Jun - July 08
Oct - Nov 08