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PRECISION MANAGEMENT Fine wool Merino/mixed grazing enterprise. Robert Kelly Mt William Agriculture Pty Ltd. Mt William Agriculture. Northern Tablelands, NSW 1050 ha 5000 fine wool Merino sheep (16.8 micron), 850 trade cattle 880 mm annual rainfall Naturalised pastures

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Precision management fine wool merino mixed grazing enterprise l.jpg

PRECISION MANAGEMENT Fine wool Merino/mixed grazing enterprise

Robert Kelly

Mt William Agriculture Pty Ltd


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Mt William Agriculture

  • Northern Tablelands, NSW

  • 1050 ha

  • 5000 fine wool Merino sheep (16.8 micron), 850 trade cattle

  • 880 mm annual rainfall

  • Naturalised pastures

  • Historical stocking rate 6-7 DSE/ha

  • Current stocking rate 11 DSE/ha


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Precision management

  • Pasturemanagement

  • Ewe management

  • Weaner management

  • Genetics

  • Parasite management


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Pasture management

  • Intensive rotational grazing

  • Pasture budgeting

  • Fertiliser and legume application


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Intensive rotational grazing at ‘Mt William’


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Intensive rotational grazing

  • Improved pasture utilisation

  • Increased pasture growth rates (20-60%)

  • Increased stocking rates (40-60%)

  • Improved labour efficiencies

  • Micro-manage mobs of sheep


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Pasture budgeting

1cm leaf area = 200-500 kg DM/ha

1 dse consume 1 kg DM/day


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Pasture budgeting

  • Pasture growth rates

  • Stocking rates

  • Decisions on buying/selling stock made easier

  • Need and timing of supplementary feeding

  • Efficiency during low and high growth periods


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Fertiliser and legumes

  • Soil testing

  • Increase pasture quantity and quality

  • Legumes:

    - provides nitrogen

    - thicken pasture sward

    - provides feed at critical times


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Ewe management

  • Fat score (FS)

  • Pregnancy scanning

  • Targeted supplementary feeding (protein)


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Fat score (12th long rib)

Condition score (short ribs and spine)

Fat score

Key times:

Target (FS 3 3+)

1. Mating: lift lambing percentage

2. Pre-lambing: increase lamb survival

Source: A. Thompson, Vic DPI


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FS at mating-lambing rate

12% increase in lambing rate per fat score at mating

Source: average of 2003 & 2004 lambing

Dr Lewis Kahn

MLA Management Solutions


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Pregnancy scanning

  • Separate ewes into twins, singles, drys

  • Scan at day 80 of pregnancy

  • Allows time for paddock preparation

  • Aids in selection for ewe fertility

  • Non-bias classing of ewes


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Supplementary feeding

  • Key times: mating and pre-lambing

  • Targets: single ewes (FS<3-), all twin ewes

  • Cotton seed meal (CSM; 43% protein)

  • (6 wks prior to lambing)

  • Single ewes (FS<3-) 150-200 g/d

  • Twin ewes 200-250 g/d


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CSM & lamb survival

40%

more lambs

Source:

Dr Lewis Kahn

MLA Management Solutions


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Weaner management

  • Weaner mortality 4th highest cost to producers

  • Most susceptible animals to parasites

  • Minimum of 25kg first winter (reduce weaner mortality)

  • Higher life time wool production including progeny

  • Maiden ewes reaching minimum joining weights

  • Draft into separate body weight groups


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Parasite management

  • Highest cost to sheep producers

  • Worm egg counts (WEC’s)

  • Drench resistant testing- alternate use of drench groups

  • Genetic selection for resistance

  • Preparation of lambing/weaning paddocks

  • Alternate grazing of sheep and cattle

  • Reduction in drench use


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Genetics

  • Australian sheep breeding values (ASBV’s)

  • Greater accuracies in sire selection

  • Select best traits for individual farms

  • Body weight, micron, fleece weight in commercial sheep

  • Genetic gains for wool traits: 4% ASBV’S

    0.5% objective measurement


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6.5 ewes/ha

80% weaning

2002- $405/ha

2009 Gross margin $888


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The future

  • Increase number of IRG systems

  • Improvement in weaner management

  • Increased use of genetics

  • Increase ewe fertility

  • Zero drench use


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Marketing

  • World manufactured fibres to increase by 5.7%/year to 2012

  • Continued replacement of natural fibres by cheaper alternatives

  • Rising level of personal income

  • High end synthetics to grow the fastest – lightweight, softness and resistance to deterioration from perspiration

  • Rising demand for flame resistant and protective clothing


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