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Wool Stocktake : AWI Annual Report 2016-17
REPRODUCTION INVESTMENT FOCUS Lift the lifetime reproductive performance of Merino ewes through: • Refinement and further delivery of the Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) package. • Improving guidelines to target nutrition to the most responsive ewes in the flock. • Increasing the use of flock monitoring technology to identify high priority ewes. • Increasing the understanding of the impacts of lambing density on ewe behaviour associated with twin lamb survival. • Developing information to target selection and culling of ewes and rams to increase lifetime reproductive performance. STRATEGIC TARGETS Targets for three-year period 2016/17 to 2018/19 Progress during 2016/17 1. An extra 1500 AWI-funded participants in LTEM (500 per annum), representing 15% of the adult ewe flock in Australia, that increase lamb weaning rates by 7%, and reduce ewe mortality by 30%. On target. More than 600 new enrolments during the 2016/17 financial year. 2. At least 250 producers engaged in determining the impact of lambing density (ewe mob size and stocking rate) on lamb survival. In progress. Project activity is increasing to accommodate a low start during a difficult winter/spring period during 2016. 3. At least 200 producers engaged in developing the strategies and guidelines for improving weaner and maiden ewe performance. In progress. Woolgrowers from across Australia have provided valuable information that is assisting the development of projects and activities to improve the performance of weaners and maiden ewes. 4. Undertake market research on a range of producer and industry segments to inform: (i) strategies that enhance producer engagement, (ii) design/pilot extension approaches that increase adoption of best practice, (iii) more thorough evaluation of whole farm impacts of LTEM, and (iv) quantify the degree and reasons for Merino ewe displacement. On target. Projects are providing valuable information to better inform extension/project activity. ‘Realising Performance Potential’ and ‘Ramping up Repro’ projects have been developed to provide “action learning” opportunities for woolgrowers interested in productivity and profitability improvement. Projects have attracted strong interest with more than 100 woolgrowers attending pilot workshops during the year. Projects will be further developed and expanded across Australia. KEY RESULTS DURING 2016/17 After completing a Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) course, woolgrowers Darren and Fiona Sanders from Keith in South Australia increased their expectations for their flock of Merino ewes and subsequently lifted their marking percentages with outstanding results. • AWI continued funding for Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) training that provides hands- on on-farm training for small groups of producers (average five) in the management and nutrition of breeding ewes to maximise reproduction efficiency. LTEM continues to refine operational procedures to improve outcomes that accommodate demands of commercial producers in different regions of Australia. The project has strong management oversight and involvement of a wide range of collaborators. Interest in LTEM remains high with several additional ‘train the trainer’ workshops run during the year. Because of the increased number of trainers available and their geographic locations across Australia, new groups have formed to complete LTEM workshops. Many new groups are forming in areas where participation levels had been lower. An updated version of the LTEM smartphone app was released in March 2017 – see page 31. • The Improving Lamb Survival by Optimising Lambing Density project is on track to demonstrate the effect of differing ewe stocking rates during lambing on reproduction rates. Early results indicate an increase in number of lambs weaned when moderate stocking rates are maintained, however further results will emerge over time. • The Quantifying and Understanding the Displacement of the Merino Ewe project is progressing with valuable information emerging about the decision-making processes of sheep and wool producers in Australia. The aim is to determine opportunities, constraints and barriers of Merino production systems and develop research, development and extension activities that address the decline and grow the Merino ewe population 28 REPORT OF 2016/17 OPERATIONS – SHEEP PRODUCTION
AWI Annual Report 2015-16