Technologies to boost bottom line the focus at Kirby field day

05 June 2015

Sheep producers demonstrated a hunger for new technology which will enable them to be more productive while better meeting consumer needs at the Sheep CRC’s Sheep Innovation Day last Friday (29 May).

Supported by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and the University of New England (UNE), the event was held at UNE’s Kirby Farm and attracted more than 130 sheep producers and industry service providers to hear presentations on the latest advancements in the sheep and wool supply chain.

Key topics and speakers included:

  • James Rowe: Overview of the Sheep CRC
  • Richard Apps: Sheep meat value chains
  • Sam Clark: Genetics and genomics
  • Hamish Chandler: The Resource Flock and Followers
  • Lu Hogan: Using eID in sheep enterprises

The Sheep Innovation Day also featured hands-on demonstrations in the areas of flock management and the use of electronic identification.

Friday Feedback caught up with three producers who attended the event.

Producing what the customer wants

Sheep producer Todd Whillock runs a 2,000-head flock near Woolbrook and mates approximately one-third of his ewes to Poll Dorsets while the remainder are joined with Merinos for wool production.

“I was excited to hear about the new technologies that are being trialled and the potential for them to allow us to get a clearer picture of the product we are producing and marketing to our consumers,” Mr Whillock said.

“I like the fact that if these technologies are used by processors and others in the supply chain it will put more pressure on breeders to focus on eating quality traits rather than purely just growth rates alone.”

“What we will hopefully end up with is more customer satisfaction and that will allow us to continue our strong market position into the future.”

Demonstrating credentials

Walcha district producer Kim Barnet, Miramoona, runs a 7,000 head stud and commercial Merino operation and said technology and genetics were important to verify production and ethical credentials.

“Technology is becoming more and more appropriate to what we do and advancements such as apps for phones which then relate to electronic tagging, weighing or data collection will help us to demonstrate to consumers what we do,” Kim said.

Research worth the investment

Angus Carter is a stud stock agent at Landmark Wool in Armidale and runs a small property of ultra-fines.  He said the Sheep Innovation Day demonstrated to him the value of investment in technology and genetic research.

“There are major investments going on and this puts a face to where the levy dollars are going,” Angus said.

“For example, we saw that it is so important to nail in on your very best genetics given the top half of your flock is what delivers more than three-quarters of your profit.

“We need to keep looking to the future to keep our slice of the profit margin and these are the projects that can deliver that bigger slice.”

Among the presenters at the event  was MLA Program Manager, Genetics Implementation and Sheep R&D, Richard Apps, who outlined the latest work being undertaken to develop quality-based sheepmeat value chains. 

 “An event like the Sheep Innovation Day allows us to demonstrate to producers how this will be possible into the future,” Richard said.

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