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Increasing Lamb Survival

Project start date: 01 May 2018
Project end date: 14 October 2022
Project status: In progress
Livestock species: Sheep, Lamb
Relevant regions: Victoria
Site location: South west Victoria


The Enhanced Producer Demonstration Site (EPDS) concept was developed in 2014 as a partnership between Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and Agriculture Victoria. The partnership brings the benefits of integrating with Agriculture Victoria’s  BestWool/BestLamb and BetterBeef network of producers and groups receive assistance from Agriculture Victoria extension staff throughout the demonstrations including monitoring, evaluation, reporting and communication.

This project comprised of two parts. Firstly, the completion of a suite of eight (Phase 1) demonstrations that commenced in 2014, and secondly, a further seven (Phase 2) demonstrations, established through an expression of interest (EOI) process that commenced in 2018 / 19. 

Demonstrating increased lamb survival following the Lifting Lamb Survival Paddock Planning and National Lambing Density Protocols. Measuring the benefits from mob size, ewe condition and improved shelter.


Increasing lamb survival rates is a high priority for the sheep industry providing both economic and welfare benefits.  The Western Plains BestWool/BestLamb (BWBL) group identified lamb survival as a high priority and were keen to implement the outcomes of recent research findings and measure the impact on twin lamb survival in their environment.  The group of sheep producers identified three key strategies that they wanted to put to the test, mob size, shelter and ewe condition.   

Mob-size trials conducted over three years demonstrated that smaller mobs, averaging 45 ewes had greater lamb survival (86 -90 %) than larger mobs averaging 113 (82- 83 %).  In the final year of the project, a second property measured a 7 % higher lamb survival in the smaller mob of 64 ewes (77 % lamb survival) compared to the larger mob of 100 ewes (70 % survival).   

A shelter trial conducted in 2021 achieved a 10 % higher lamb survival in a more sheltered paddock, with rushes and additional shelterbelts than the less sheltered paddock (82% compared to 70%).   

Ewe condition trials demonstrated that ewes in higher condition score (3.5) prior to lambing produced more lambs than ewes in lower condition (2.8). Increases in lamb survival ranged from 6% to 29% for the higher condition score mobs.   

Group members gained skills and experience through group condition scoring activities, paddock walks assessing feed on offer, a temporary electric fencing demonstration to divide up paddocks for smaller lambing mobs and a lamb autopsy workshop.    

An evaluation with group members showed improvements in knowledge, attitude and skills of all parameters measured. The Western Plains BWBL group members are now implementing changes around ewe mob size, managing ewe condition and better use of shelter for twin-bearing ewes.   

Get involved

Contact the PDS facilitators:

Cathy Mulligan

Andrew Kennedy