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National procedures and guidelines for intensive sheep and lamb feeding systems

Did you know MLA has created new information resources to guide intensive lamb finishing in Australia?

Project start date: 15 July 2019
Project end date: 10 January 2020
Publication date: 17 January 2020
Livestock species: Lamb
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (1.7 MB)

Summary

Seasonal and market conditions in recent years have increased producers' interest in strategically finishing lambs in on-farm feedlots and the use of containment yards to manage sheep. Although industry demand for information on these practices is growing, the number of evidence-based recommendations and guidelines available to sheep producers are limited.

MLA and Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) commissioned this project to update previously published documents regarding sheep feedlotting and containment in Australia.

This project has revised and updated two key industry reports with new information from recent research, relevant benchmarks, market information and images. The project also completed a brief review of the state of research and development (R&D) for the Australian lamb feedlotting sector.

Objectives

This project focused on updating the relevant information on best practice management, performance targets, new R&D and primary information sources for sheep producers. Central to this was identifying current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research in the sector.

Key findings

  • Over the past 15 years, the Australian red meat industry has identified knowledge gaps and research priorities for lamb feedlotting and sheep containment, primarily in the areas of nutritional requirements and ration formulation, feedlot design and the effect of management and genetics on lamb performance.
  • A producers' guide to production feeding for lamb growth provides information on the most important aspects of intensive lamb finishing, specifically relating to growth. The main topics include running a viable finishing system, nutrition, animal health and welfare, management and marketing.
  • National procedures and guidelines for intensive sheep and lamb feeding systems covers lambs finished outdoors or in sheds (including containment areas) and provides information on environmental, nutritional and design management, plus recommendations on supply chain and animal health and welfare practices.

Benefits to industry

MLA and SPA want to ensure that Australian sheep producers have access to up-to-date extension materials on best practice management of sheep and lambs in containment or feedlot situations.

The main knowledge gaps and research questions identified during this project can guide industry research funding into areas that can create the greatest benefit for the lamb feedlotting and sheep containment feeding sector.

MLA action

Based on the recommendations of this project, MLA is developing a strategic approach to investment based on scientifically valid information, which will help create a specific program for lamb feedlotting in Australia.

Future research

  • The current lamb finishing industry has been developed on an ad hoc basis, drawing on information supported by only a small amount of fragmented research. If the industry is to grow sustainably, it requires a strategic approach to investment based on scientifically valid information.
  • There is an opportunity to develop research that responds to industry knowledge gaps and collect data to guide the intensive management of sheep and lambs. Specific research questions are detailed in the project's final report and should be used to guide future research priorities in the industry.

More information

Contact email: reports@mla.com.au
Primary researcher: AgriPartner Consulting