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Pushing the boundaries on ewe productivity

WoolPoll Levy

31st May 2013

Wool growers wanting to combine superior genetics with ewe nutrition to boost fertility and productivity will have the opportunity to fine-tune their skills at workshops through the sheep-wheat zone.

Pooginook Merino stud, Jerilderie, will host four Bred Well Fed Well forums this year in NSW and Victoria.

The workshops will take place at:

  • Merrimba Station, Warren, NSW – 19 June 2013
  • West Wyalong showground, NSW – 20 June 2013
  • Boorowa, NSW – 12 July 2013
  • St Arnaud, Victoria – 25 July 2013.

Pooginook Property Manager, John Sutherland, said the workshops would cover the practical applications of using Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) alongside visual selection to drive increased producer profitability.

The free one-day workshops are supported by Meat and Livestock Australia and the Sheep Co-operative Research Centre, as part of a national program to increase sheep industry productivity.

In 2011 and 2012, Pooginook ran Lifetime Ewe Management and Bred Well Fed Well workshops in three states, spawning the establishment of five producer networks.

Sheep producers will be given hands-on training at the workshops on how to use superior genetics and nutrition to achieve improved reproductive performance.

Pooginook is using the Lifetime Ewe Management principles to push the boundaries on within-flock reproductive performance.

Pooginook has also used feed budgeting to assess available paddock feed quantity and quality to optimise conception and lamb survival rates.

The aim was to have ewe weaners reach 60 kilograms liveweight by their hogget joining.

“We tested the quality of the pasture (mainly native species) in February 2013 and found it to be low in digestibility, energy and protein (six megajoules of energy and five per cent crude protein),’’ Mr Sutherland said.

“This was my first signal to supplement our weaner ewes and rams.’’

A ration of 80 per cent barley and 20 per cent lupins was fed in the paddock.

Pasture allocated to the breeding ewes was reassessed post-scanning in April and found to have declined, so a lambing pellet and corn fed was used to boost protein and energy levels.

Twinning ewes, followed by maidens, were allocated pastures with higher dry matter content and digestibility.

“We continued to feed lucerne hay through three weeks of lambing with little disturbance as the ewes were content,’’ Mr Sutherland said.

Elders Senior Livestock Production Advisor, Rob Inglis, said improved ewe nutrition should be enacted at least six months before lambing.

“The preparation for fertility rates for next year’s lambing actually starts now,’’ Mr Inglis said.

He said ram fertility should not be neglected either, with supplementary feeding pre-joining.

“Good nutrition is absolutely critical. Few people consider the extra grain cost in feeding a sheep which has lost one condition score,’’ Mr Inglis said.

“It takes about six weeks of intense feeding to regain that condition score.’’

For details on the Bred Well Fed Well forums, contact Pooginook Merino stud on (02) 6954 6145.


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