Making More from Sheep Australian Wool Innovation Limited Meat & Livestock Australia
Making More from Sheep

1. News:

El Niño Alert

With talk of an El Niño on the horizon for this spring it's a good time to have a look at some of the websites that can help farmers make sense of it all. Graeme Anderson, Climate Specialist with the Victorian Department of Primary Industries and Environment, has put together a list of websites (click here) that provide up-to-date information as well as entertaining explanations of climate systems. The Climate dogs cartoons are a must see!

ABARES Farm Survey Results 2011-12 to 2013-14

For a detailed profile of the financial performance of farm businesses in the livestock, grains and dairy industries from 2011-12 to 2013-14 download the recently released Australian Farm SurveyResults (2 MB). Farm cash income for sheep farms is expected to average $71,000 for 2013-14, which is 25% above the 10 year average of $57,000 per farm. The report also covers long term analysis, including an average productivity increase of only 0.1% per annum for sheep farms over the last 35 years, compared to productivity increases of 1.6% per annum for cropping over the same time period. In addition, the report demonstrates the benefit of superior business performance over time with the top 25% of broadacre farms achieving a return of 5.9% (excluding capital appreciation) over the last 20 years, compared to 1.1% for the average broadacre farm. Research shows that most farm businesses exhibiting high levels of financial performance relative to their peers continue to do so over the medium-term. This indicates enormous scope for most broadacre farms to significantly improve returns through better management.

Visual Classing Merino Sheep

AWI has released a publication called "Visual Classing Merino Sheep". The publication lists the traits that are important for visual classing, identifies which characteristics are desirable in the trait and explains the importance of each. It also covers how visual classing can be combined with objective assessment including the use of raw data as well as Australian Sheep Breeding Values. The publication can be downloaded here, or for a hard copy contact Emily King at AWI on 02 8295 3176, or

MLA and AWI wool and sheepmeat survey

MLA and AWI again kindly ask for sheep producers' time and considered responses to the wool and sheepmeat survey for June 2014. Responses will be aggregated with the replies from other participants to create regional, state and national sheepmeat and wool industry data. Individual responses remain strictly confidential.

The survey allows MLA and AWI to monitor production and producer intentions for the future, to generate better forward-looking information for our industry. The survey closes on 30 June 2014. Responses received by this date will be entered into the draw* for the chance to win a Caltex StarCash Card worth $1,000*. Click on the following link to complete the survey:

* LOTTERY PERMIT No: NSW-LTPS/14/03693, ACT TP 14/01636

2. R&D Update:

Prime Lamb Situation Analysis

Lamb production is set to remain one of the most profitable livestock enterprises. However continued business investment is required to further improve productivity and increase resilience against potential future shocks. That’s one of the recommendations from the Prime Lamb Situation Analysis, authored by Sandy McEachern of Holmes Sackett, which found all sheep enterprises are currently enjoying superior average profitability compared to beef and dryland cropping. A strong focus over the last decade on optimising production levels per hectare is in large part responsible for this strong result. However the most profitable businesses in the prime lamb sector today are focused on production per DSE, in particular growth rate to sale. In addition, they maintain firm control over costs, particularly labour, in spite of the industry’s current high prices. In the drier regions – less than 650mm rainfall – the study found lamb enterprises were struggling to compete with cropping and wool, throwing up opportunities for systems research in these areas. You can download the full report (0.6MB) by clicking here.

3. Management Tips:

Simple feed budgets

Matching feed supply to animal demand is essential to achieve production targets and optimise pasture utilisation. While the use of a computer is required for whole-of-farm feed demand calculations (Tool 8.3), simple short-term feed budgets can be calculated manually on a paddock by paddock basis. These can be used to provide answers to questions like “how many ewes can be lambed down in a particular paddock”? The Making More From Sheep Feed Budgeting Template (Tool 8.4) shows some examples of how this can be done using estimated pasture growth rates, estimated animal intake, current feed availability and paddock size.

4. Coming Events

Making More From Sheep runs a range of events mostly aimed at small groups/audiences of sheep producers looking to improve skills and knowledge on a topic of local interest, leading to on-farm adoption. State Coordinators are available to organise events and presenters to suit local needs and are keen to work with groups, facilitators or service providers for single events or a series of activities. For further information contact your State Coordinator.