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ARTICLES >> Livestock Articles

Going for gold – with Lifetime Ewe Management

Posted by Bestprac on Feb 02 2012

Sheep CRC News Release
Sheep producers are on to a winner with the innovative Lifetime Ewe Management program.
 

Not only are farmers reaping very large gains in productivity, by managing ewes to condition score targets and increasing stocking rates, but a new study has found that the delivery model is also earning praise as a way of achieving industry-wide outcomes.

Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) assists producers to improve their understanding of ewe nutrition and management. The course is small group-based, with about 500 producers currently involved in near 100 LTEM groups nationally.


Between 2006 and the end of 2010, more than 220 producers - who manage near a million ewes - had completed the LTEM program, and Dr Jason Trompf and colleagues have studied its impacts. The survey findings are, simply, huge.

“We looked at the changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, management practices and aspirations of 182 sheep producers in Victoria, who’ve participated in the two-year program so far,” he said.

“LTEM participants increased their whole-farm stocking rates by 14% and lamb marking percentages by 11 to 13%, depending on enterprise type; and decreased annual ewe mortality rates by 43%.”

“Basically, these improvements were consistent, regardless of year, region and how innovative participants were at the beginning of the program.”

“Their estimated dollar benefits from LTEM - in terms of increases in number of lambs weaned per hectare and reduced ewe mortality - exceed $10/ewe/year.”

Facilitated by RIST and supported by the Sheep CRC, the basic ingredients that LTEM participants constantly practice, to achieve production targets are:

condition scoring
pasture quantity and quality assessment
feed budgeting.
Dr Trompf says the appeal of the program is largely due to the small group model. “This sees producers in a district working with their flocks though the entire reproduction cycle under the hands-on guidance of a skilled local facilitator.”

“We believe the design of the LTEM program provides a blueprint for future extension programs, striving to achieve widespread practice change.”

The model clearly involves a ‘user-pays’ aspect, where farmers make a significant time and financial contribution to the program, which is shown to provide added incentive to optimise learnings.

He adds that it’s also addressing a national imperative. “The Australian sheep flock has declined from over 170 million sheep, in 1990, to about 70 million sheep now. At current turnoff rates, the national flock will continue to erode and the ability to meet projected demand for sheep meat requires a significant improvement in lamb marking rates.

“However, reproduction efficiency across the Australian sheep industry has changed little over the past 15 years, with the average marking rate remaining constant around 80%.”

“LTEM directly addresses this, and, if the LTEM impact could be achieved across 25% of the national ewe flock, we’d increase the number of lambs weaned by more than one million/year,” he said.

LTEM survey results in detail

Contact details: Dr Jason Trompf: 0408 386 896
Darren Gordon, RIST LTEM Program Leader: 0408 114 656, dgordon@rist.com.au

Acknowledgments:
The LTEM program was developed as part of the Lifetimewool Project in collaboration with Rural Industries Skills Training Victoria.
Lifetimewool was funded by Australian woolgrowers through Australian Wool Innovation Ltd and by five state Departments of Primary Industries and Agriculture. The current program 11/12 has been supported by AWI ($225,000) after Federal FarmReady funding ended suddenly in November 2010.


 

Last changed: Feb 06 2012

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