Our Monthly Newsletter | July 2019

WALRC gets down to business

The process of identifying the research and extension priorities for MLA to incorporate into its next funding round was the subject of WALRC’s June meeting in York. 

After having received feedback data extracted from meetings with more than 700 livestock producers over the previous 12 months, Council was charged with the task of identifying the top 10 issues that had the greatest capacity to make a difference to WA livestock production systems.

“Our approach was to ensure for every issue we considered there was solid rationale and consideration given to the need it would meet and the value it would deliver,” said Council chairman Dr Tim Watts.

The final R&D list submitted from WA included:
  • A recommendation for a carbon audit in order to provide both rangeland and agricultural producers with a fair and equitable scientific basis to establish their carbon footprint. The outcomes of this work should include further research generate information about carbon sequestration on our properties not previously included and to prepare us for a carbon trading future.
  • A request to understand the underlying physiology and pathology associated with ewe dystocia (lambing difficulty) in direct response to an industry commitment to improve lamb viability by a better understanding of normal birth processes and how disruptions occur;  
  • A request to make new endeavours to address through a range of strategies the autumn/winter nutrient gap in order to sustainably increase stocking rates, reduce risk and improve profitability, with a special focus on wheatbelt;  
  • A request to better understand and manage the beef farming system through better understanding the relationship between size of breeding cow,  feed conversion efficiency and profitability;
  • A request to explore parasitic hyper-sensitivity scours in young sheep; and
  • To explore the cause and prevalence of bull Posthitis.

WALRC adds Producer Demonstration Sites to its remit

MLA has sought greater input from research councils on the extension theme areas that are funded via the Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) program. 

WALRC members were asked to review its datasets in order to provide up to 10 extension/demonstration priority areas that would form the basis of the next PDS round.

WALRC members will also be involved in reviewing the PDS applications to further ensure that PDS activity is closely aligned to industry needs and benefits.  The call for Producer Demonstration Site applications opens today and closes at the end of August.

A bit more on the PDS

Since the implementation of the 2015-20 Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) program framework, the PDS program has held five national open calls for PDS projects. There are two ways a PDS can be funded:

1. Levy PDS Projects This stream expands on the previous PDS program by offering greater flexibility and longer timelines to achieve outcomes in more regions and project types e.g. genetics. These projects are funded 100% by producer levies. These projects must align with the PDS priorities identified by WALRC and its fellow councils SALRC in the east and NABRC in the north.  Producer groups wishing to engage in Levy PDS project can apply for up to $25,000 per year, for the length of the project.
2. Co-Contributor PDS Projects This stream aims to achieve the same outcomes as the Levy PDS stream, though offers the opportunity for producers to co-invest, and as a result, be able to access further funding to enhance the project. Producer co-investment is matched through the MLA Donor Company (MDC). These projects must align with industry priorities and targets e.g. Meat Industry Strategic Plan and MLA Strategic Plan targets. Groups wishing to engage in Co-contributor PDS project can apply for up to $50,000 per year (plus access fee), for the length of the project. Funding for these projects is split as follows:
  • 50% Levy
  • 25% Producer cash contribution
  • 25% MDC
  • 8% access fee (of total project value)
Projects timelines for both Levy and Co-Contributor PDS projects range from a minimum of two years, up to maximum of six years.
MLA is now calling for preliminary applications for Levy & Co-Contributor PDS projects related to improving sheep enterprise and/or beef cattle enterprise business profitability and productivity and that are able to commence during 2020.  
The Terms of Reference, preliminary application forms, guidelines and supporting documents are available on the MLA website now.

Fit to Load guide

MLA is staging a webinar on July 25 (12.30pm AEST) to outline changes to the recently revised Fit to Load guide. In this webinar, MLA’s Ted Parish will be joined by Queensland cattle producer Russell Lethbridge to talk through the new guide, particularly what’s changed, and what it means for producers, consignors and transporters.

To register, click here: Register now

DPIRD invests in feed efficiency

West Australian sheep research is set for a significant boost with a $1.3million investment in a new sheep feed efficiency facility at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Katanning research facility.

This nationally significant facility will enable researchers to electronically record the feed intake of individual sheep fed a range of different diets under commercial conditions. This will enable researchers to identify genetically superior animals to target in breeding programs.

According to WALRC’s DPIRD representative Mandy Curnow, there is potential for genetic gains in feed conversion efficiency, especially during the WA summer-autumn feed gap when supplementary feeding is common. 

“There is also currently no genetic selection for feed efficiency traits in sheep, due to the difficulty in measuring individual feed intake,” Mandy said.

“Better understanding of feed conversion will enable WA producers to refine breeding and management programs to reduce the cost of production and improve the competitiveness of WA sheep meat in the global marketplace.”

The research facility will be fitted with 20 pens to house about 300 sheep. In the past DPIRD was an international leader in feed intake research, particularly for pigs and sheep, at its former Medina Research Facility.

The new facility is expected to be in operation by December this year.

What's coming up

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

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