Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) track performance and adoption indicators in order to evaluate the effectiveness of a host of research and development activities. One invaluable method of obtaining detailed information on producers’ awareness and adoption of new practices is to conduct regular surveys.
In 2006 ABARE was commissioned by MLA to undertake a supplementary survey of broadacre producers to gain insights into awareness and adoption of a range of practices by producers including:
• awareness of production costs;
• pasture and grazing management;
• farm management and planning;
• livestock production, finishing and marketing; and • use of transport handling guidelines.
ABARE’s survey was conducted in the second half of 2006 and targeted producers with more than 200 sheep or 50 beef cattle. Specific questions were asked of 201 specialist sheep producers, 336 specialist beef cattle producers and 638 mixed enterprise producers. Producers with more than 50 head of cattle in northern and southern Australia were asked a set of questions specific to their region in order to gain insights into the management practices used in areas that employ different production systems.
Detailed findings of the ABARE survey were presented in a series of tables separate to this report. This report highlights key results of ABARE’s 2006 survey and presents a comparison of similar questions asked in 2005 by Axiom Research (Meat and Livestock Australia Program Adoption and Awareness survey).
Care needs to be taken in interpreting differences in the estimates generated from the Axiom Research survey in 2005 and the current ABARE survey due to differences in survey methodology and the way questions were asked. The absence of standard errors on the Axiom Research estimates also makes it difficult to assess significant differences.
The ABARE survey suggests that some of the changes since 2005 have been:
• an increase in the proportion of producers who calculate forage budgets in order to manage livestock stocking rates;
• greater focus on meeting market specifications;
• more producers with clearly defined breeding objectives;
• increased production of finished livestock, particularly amongst the specialist sheep and beef cattle producers;
• more producers altering their management practices in response to data received from abattoirs;
• fewer producers in the sheep and beef cattle industries regularly weighing their livestock to assess weight gain; and
• fewer producers using Estimated Breeding Values or indices for sire selection or purchases.
The results of the analysis provide no clear association between producers’ adoption of management practices of interest to the MLA and total factor productivity and return on capital. For the majority of practices, there is no statistically significant difference between the level of adoption amongst the producers with lowest and highest productivity or return on capital.