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Finishing Systems for the Future

Did you know that finishing lambs instead of selling them early could increase net profits by up to $1,492/ha?

Project start date: 31 January 2017
Project end date: 29 November 2019
Publication date: 29 May 2020
Livestock species: Lamb
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (2.3 MB)

Summary

In 2016, modelling research conducted for Monaro Farming Systems determined that properly finishing lambs was more profitable than selling them at a lighter weight, as the additional feeding costs are outweighed by the increase in $/kg sale price.

This Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) project was developed to confirm the findings of the 2016 Monaro modelling by gathering on-farm data on growth rates and lamb performance on pastures and crops similar to those modelled.

The results showed that the 2016 modelling for lamb performance was reliable. Cost analysis showed that retaining lambs and finishing them to heavier weights is more profitable than selling lambs at a lighter weight. Average net profits for the nine systems measured ranged from $305/ha to $1,492/ha, which are higher than selling lighter lambs for a profit of only $161/ha.

Objectives

The objective of this PDS was to determine if high quality forage crop and perennial pasture systems can be used to meet target weights and fat scores for finishing lambs on the Monaro, to increase overall farm profit.

The finishing systems tested included retaining lambs longer into the autumn, developing specialist lucerne paddocks to maintain higher growth rates over summer and using brassica forage crops over summer to maintain high growth rates and achieve heavier finished weights.

Key findings

  • Results from this PDS have confirmed the accuracy of the modelled data from the original report and gives producers in the Monaro region confidence to pursue lamb finishing on more specialised crops and pastures to increase profitability.
  • Average net profits per hectare for the nine systems measured ranged from $305/ha to $1,492/ha, which demonstrates that it is more profitable to adopt a finishing program than to sell store lambs at a net profit of $161/ha.
  • If livestock producers achieved an annual net profit of only $305/ha on an average farm size of 2,500ha, it would be possible to increase annual net profit by an additional $72,000.
  • Producers who participated in the PDS are now making changes to their lamb finishing enterprise as a result of this data. For example, one producer who changed their system to finish lambs has improved overall gross margins by 5-10% and will potentially increase net profit by 25%.

Benefits to industry

If livestock producers in the Monaro region adopt lamb finishing systems, the benefit for the local grazing industry would range from $144/ha up to $1,331/ha in net profits above the current selling system.

MLA action

Further research is warranted to assess the value of supplements as a tactical finishing strategy.

Using the data from this PDS, Monaro Farming Systems successfully applied for further PDS funding from MLA to explore the benefits of supplementation in finishing lambs. This data will help quantify the economic benefits of using supplementation.

More information

Contact email: reports@mla.com.au
Primary researcher: Monaro Farming Systems CMC Inc