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Newsletter | February 2020

Michael Craig to spearhead WALRC’s Livestock Matters Forums

WALRC's opening speaker at the coming Livestock Matters forums, Michael Craig.
Nuffield scholar Michael Craig runs a mixed lamb, wool, beef and cropping business at Harrow in the western districts of Victoria and will provide the opening address at the WALRC Livestock Matters forums running March 25, 26 and 27 in Many Peaks, Kulin and Dandaragan.
 
Mick has been invited to challenge the audience and to use the examples of change and innovation from his enterprise to stimulate the day’s discussion. 
 
He describes himself as a ‘relative newcomer’ to farming and readily admits to have had innovation failings over this time, including trialing biological shearing and alternatives to mulesing.
 
“In the trial and error process I’ve learnt how to adapt my business to the long-term market needs which drove my decision to cease mulesing 13 years ago; and new technologies have been the enabler for many of my changes,” he says.
 
He completed a 2016 Nuffield scholarship, entitled "Sheep & lamb meat - a commodity or premium product?” and as a consequence travelled extensively looking at other protein value chains.
 
“I came to the conclusion that for Australia to maintain its position as a premium protein, linking the value chain through objective carcase measurements to end consumer value would create transparency and value creating behaviour back on farm,” he said.
 
Mick has a number of involvements off farm including chairing the Victorian Sheep and Goat Compensation fund; sits on the Advanced Livestock Measurement Technology Program Steering Committee, and has recently retired from the Sheep Producers Australia Board.  
 
Mick will open the Livestock Matters forum with his presentation at 1pm at Manypeaks on March 25; Kulin March 26 and Dandaragan March 27.
 
The full agenda for each event can be found here. The Forums are free to attend and include a complimentary luncheon. RSVPs are essential and should be sent to admin@walrc.com.au
Nuffield scholar Michael Craig runs a mixed lamb, wool, beef and cropping business at Harrow in the western districts of Victoria and will provide the opening address at the WALRC Livestock Matters forums running March 25, 26 and 27 in Many Peaks, Kulin and Dandaragan.
 
Mick has been invited to challenge the audience and to use the examples of change and innovation from his enterprise to stimulate the day’s discussion. 
 
He describes himself as a ‘relative newcomer’ to farming and readily admits to have had innovation failings over this time, including trialling biological shearing and alternatives to mulesing.
 
“In the trial and error process I’ve learnt how to adapt my business to the long-term market needs which drove my decision to cease mulesing 13 years ago; and new technologies have been the enabler for many of my changes,” he says.
 
He completed a 2016 Nuffield scholarship, entitled "Sheep & lamb meat - a commodity or premium product?” and as a consequence travelled extensively looking at other protein value chains.
 
“I came to the conclusion that for Australia to maintain its position as a premium protein, linking the value chain through objective carcase measurements to end consumer value would create transparency and value creating behaviour back on farm,” he said.
 
Mick has a number of involvements off farm including chairing the Victorian Sheep and Goat Compensation fund; sits on the Advanced Livestock Measurement Technology Program Steering Committee, and has recently retired from the Sheep Producers Australia Board.  
 
Mick will open the Livestock Matters forum with his presentation at 1pm at Manypeaks on March 25; Kulin March 26 and Dandaragan March 27.
 
The full agenda for each event can be found here. The Forums are free to attend and include a complimentary luncheon. But most importantly, they represent the opportunity for producers to directly have their say about the future of red meat production research and extension projects that have the greatest capacity to add value to their businesses. RSVPs are essential and should be sent to admin@walrc.com.au

South coast Livestock Matters forum includes a Lester Pastoral farm walk

The Lester family’s Many Peaks property will be the site of a pre-forum field walk on March 25.
 
“The autumn feed gap is something we all talk about filling - and the Lester family has taken big steps to address this with a range of different dryland and irrigation options,” said WALRC executive officer Esther Jones.
 
“The work that Kim Lester is doing will be a real stimulus for discussion as he goes about the evolution of the Lester business to a year-round grazing enterprise, transitioning from what was for decades known as one of WA’s leading pioneering beef feedlot operations.”

WA Dung Beetle suppliers

In our last newsletter we alerted you to a great research program on Dung Beetles, with WA project coordinator Kathy Dawson writing in to note to WALRC subscribers wanting to source local dung beetles, that John Allen, through his AviArk business, has been supplying local and interstate landholders for many years with dung beetle supplies. 
 
Kathy and her team are contracted monitor up to 10 dung beetle sites in the south west as contributors to a developing database of beetle presence and relative abundance.
 
“We know this is far too small a sample for our enormous area and welcome WALRC’s support in expanding the coverage. Sites are to be approximately 30km apart. To date we have sites at Tingledale, North Walpole, Northcliffe, Pemberton, Manjimup localities of Middlesex, Yanmah and Perup, Nannup, Bridgetown (Greenfields), Boyup Brook and Cardiff,” says Kathy
 
If you’d like to be involved in the project contact kathy.dawson@dwer.wa.gov.au.

Research project looks at phasing out mulesing in sheep-meat production

The Mackinnon Project, FVAS, in collaboration with the Animal Welfare Science Centre of the University of Melbourne, is currently running a Meat and Livestock Australia funded project investigating the challenges and benefits associated with Phasing out Mulesing in sheep-meat production systems.

One part of the project is a cost-benefit analysis informed by a survey on breech modification and flystrike management that the project team is asking producers across the country to complete. Australia.  The survey results are confidential.  To participate you must be over 18 years and either work on, or own a sheep farm. WALRC encourages all qualifying readers to participate by clicking  Producer Survey on Breech Flystrike Prevention
 
According to the Mackinnon Project team, there’s been a low turn-out from WA and this is important to correct.  If you’re chasing more information contact Elsa Glanville on elsa.glanville@unimelb.edu.au

Some other dates for your diaries

A new event showcasing technological advances in the sheep industry is being held in Borden next month.

 Lamb-Tech will be held at the Borden Pavilion on Thursday 12 March and is aimed at Great Southern producers seeking to learn how to incorporate new technologies, such as electronic identification (EID) tagging into their sheep flock.

The seminar will feature a range of speakers including industry experts and local producers who have already implemented the technology. More information here.  Meanwhile, our colleagues at DPIRD in partnership with MLA are hosting "a conversation with OBE Organic" on March 18 and 19. Click here for the details.

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WA Livestock Research Council · WALRC Secretariat · PO Box 668 · Denmark, WA 6333 · Australia

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