Lifetime Ewe Management – Optimizing Sheep Productivity


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The Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) course offered by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) provides woolgrowers with the skills and knowledge to enhance ewe nutrition, health and productivity over a 12-month reproductive cycle and helps reduce ewe mortality in the industry. This article outlines the structure, content and benefits of undertaking this hands-on national training program.

What is the Lifetime Ewe Management Course?

Lifetime Ewe Management is an accredited course developed by AWI and delivered by RIST in partnership with Local Land Services in NSW. The program teaches best-practice ewe management to maximize wool production and lamb turnoff.

In a series of six interactive workshops, participants learn how to monitor ewe condition, meet nutritional targets, achieve weaning rates and finished lamb goals, and ultimately drive profitability. Skills covered include condition scoring, feed budgeting, pasture management, reproductive strategies and more.

The Lifetime Ewe Management program covers the complete 12 month reproductive cycle from weaning to weaning.

The practical group learning structure creates a unique on-farm learning experience for woolgrowers motivated to refine their ewe flock management approach.

Why Focus on Lifetime Ewe Management?

A ewe flock can comprise up to 80% of the sheep on a wool enterprise, so optimizing the performance of breeding ewes across their lifespan is critical. As the key profit drivers on a wool property, ewes warrant dedicated management focus.

Some key reasons why this course places special emphasis on ewe nutrition, welfare and reproduction include:

  • Ewes contribute most of the income through wool and lamb sales.
  • The reproductive performance of ewes underpins production.
  • Ewe nutrition impacts conception, lambing and weaning rates.
  • Mortality rates are highest in ewes over 5 years old.
  • Balancing ewe condition lessens metabolic disorders.
  • Targeted management boosts lamb growth to weaning.
  • Lifetime productivity depends on ewe health and nutrition.

Through better understanding of ewes’ feed requirements and the effects of nutrition on reproductive performance, LTEM participants can significantly improve flock productivity and profitability.

Who is Eligible to Attend LTEM Courses?

The Lifetime Ewe Management course is designed for hands-on wool producers looking to expand their skills in sheep husbandry and flock management. To participate, applicants must:

  • Run a self-replacing merino flock in NSW.
  • Be an AWI levy paying woolgrower.
  • Be prepared to monitor and apply learnings to a dedicated ‘focus flock’ of ewes.
  • Attend all 6 workshop sessions with their small producer group.
  • Host 1 of the 6 on-farm workshop sessions.

AWI offers a subsidy of $500 + GST per participant to offset attendance costs. In return, growers commit to implementing improved practices following the training.

What is Covered in the Course Content?

The LTEM course curriculum equips producers with knowledge spanning ewe nutrition, reproductive management, condition monitoring, feed budgeting, lambing and weaning goals.

Key topics covered in the 6 workshop sessions include:

  • Ewe condition scoring and nutritional requirements
  • Pasture and forage assessment
  • Pre-joining ewe preparation
  • Pregnancy management and lambing
  • Lactation, weaning and ewe recovery
  • Lifetime wool production and ewe sales

Through practical activities timed to flock management cycles, participants gain experience monitoring condition, planning feed budgets, assessing lambing rates and optimizing nutrition through lamb weaning.

What is the Learning Format and Structure?

LTEM utilizes an engaging mix of on-farm workshops, hands-on activities, expert presentations and discussion to cement learnings. The interactive group structure fosters knowledge sharing among peers.

The core components of the course delivery include:

  • Groups of 5 to 7 producers meeting over 6 sessions from February to November.
  • Workshops led by experienced LTEM trainers and LLS staff, held on participants’ properties.
  • Monitoring a dedicated ‘focus flock’ of ewes to apply and measure practices.
  • Condition scoring, feed budgeting, pasture measuring and assessments.
  • Open discussion and questioning between producers.
  • Ongoing contact with the trainer for follow-up support.
  • Reference material and tools to reinforce key learnings.

This participative learning format results in high adoption of optimized ewe management practices on-farm.

What Are the Measurable Benefits of Undertaking LTEM?

Australian woolgrowers who have completed the LTEM course have recorded significant measurable improvements in ewe and flock performance.

Independent analysis of participant outcomes shows:

  • Increased weaning rates of 5-15% in focus flocks.
  • Higher marking rates following joining of 10-20% relative to previous years.
  • Increased lamb survival rates of 2-5% in focus flocks.
  • Higher wool cut per head of 1-2kg clean fleece weight.
  • Significant improvement in ewe condition scoring ability.

In dollar terms, these production gains translate to higher wool income and lamb sales of $30 to over $100 per ewe joined.

Beyond measurable productivity and profit improvements, participants also gain confidence, skills and satisfaction from completing the course and applying their new expertise.

Why Complete the Lifetime Ewe Management Course?

For wool enterprises seeking to refine their ewe flock management and performance, the industry-supported Lifetime Ewe Management course offers an invaluable and rewarding experience.

In summary, key benefits that make this practical training program worthwhile include:

  • Boosting reproductive rates and lamb turnoff.
  • Increasing wool cut per head over a ewe’s lifespan.
  • Fine-tuning ewe nutrition to optimize condition.
  • Hands-on monitoring, condition scoring and feed budgeting experience.
  • Learning the 12-month ewe management cycle comprehensively.
  • Networking and exchanging ideas in local producer groups.
  • Building skills and confidence in sheep husbandry.
  • Ongoing specialist support and industry reference tools.
  • AWI subsidy makes the course affordable and accessible.

Through dedicated focus on optimizing nutrition, reproductive performance and management of ewes over their lifetime, LTEM equips woolgrowers to sustainably maximize flock productivity and profitability.

The cost of the course is $2,400 plus GST per participant, however the Australian Wool Innovation offers eligible wool growers a subsidy of $1,000 which all eligible producers are encouraged to access.

To find out if you’re eligible for the subsidy, contact Tanisha Shields when you enquire about the program. Tanisha can be reached on 0447 642 131 or tanisha.shields@lls.nsw.gov.au.

FAQ

Q: What is Lifetime Ewe Management?

A: Lifetime Ewe Management (LEM) is a nationally accredited program designed to optimize the productivity of sheep in Australia. It focuses on improving the reproductive performance and management of ewes throughout their lifetime to maximize the profitability of sheep producers.

Q: How does LEM work?

A: LEM is a program that involves groups of five like-minded sheep producers participating in a course to learn and implement best practices in sheep management. The program includes a visit to each participant’s farm, where the groups discuss and analyze the current management practices and identify areas for improvement.

Q: What are the critical stages in the management covered by LEM?

A: LEM emphasizes the critical stages in the management of ewes, including joining, pregnancy, lambing, lactation, and weaning. These stages are crucial for optimizing the reproductive performance of the flock and ensuring the survival and growth of the progeny.

Q: Why is optimizing reproductive performance important?

A: Optimizing the reproductive performance of ewes is essential for increasing the productivity and profitability of sheep enterprises. It allows for better flock expansion, increased number of lambs sold, and improved overall flock performance.

Q: How does LEM benefit sheep producers?

A: LEM provides sheep producers with the knowledge and skills to improve their flock’s reproductive performance and optimize the overall productivity of their sheep enterprises. It helps them make informed decisions regarding nutrition, breeding, and flock management to increase the profitability of their businesses.

Q: What is the role of nutrition and management in LEM?

A: Nutrition and management play a crucial role in LEM. The program focuses on educating sheep producers about the effects of nutrition and management on ewe productivity and lamb survival. Participants learn how to assess and monitor feed on offer, identify nutritional deficiencies, and implement appropriate feeding strategies to optimize flock performance.

Q: Who can participate in the LEM program?

A: Any sheep producer in Australia, particularly those in New South Wales, can participate in the LEM program. The program is open to both woolgrowers and meat sheep producers who are interested in optimizing the productivity of their flocks.

Q: Is LEM a nationally accredited course?

A: Yes, LEM is a nationally accredited course involving groups of five sheep producers. The program is designed to meet the needs of rural industries and is recognized and supported by industry organizations such as the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI).

Q: What is the goal of the Lifetime Wool Project within LEM?

A: The Lifetime Wool Project is a component of LEM that aims to increase the lifetime wool production of ewes. It focuses on improving the quality and quantity of wool produced throughout the ewe’s productive life, benefiting the wool industry and the participating sheep producers.

Q: What are the benefits of participating in LEM?

A: Participating in LEM provides sheep producers with the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in best practice sheep management. It helps them optimize the productivity of their flocks, increase profitability, and network with like-minded producers in their local area.

Conclusion

Here is a comprehensive conclusion for the article utilizing the provided keywords:

In conclusion, the Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) course offers immense value for sheep producers across Australia seeking to optimize the productivity and profitability of their flocks. By focusing on improving producer understanding of the influence ewe nutrition and management has on the performance of the ewe, LTEM equips participants with the skills and knowledge to enhance reproductive performance and optimize ewe stocking rates. 

The practical, hands-on course covers critical stages in the 12-month management cycle of the ewe flock. Skills training in areas like condition scoring, feed budgeting and pasture assessment provides the tools to make informed feeding and management decisions to meet targets for lambing, weaning and wool production. Participants also benefit from networking with other producers in small groups and gaining support from experienced industry consultants.

Developed by research organizations like the Sheep CRC and delivered by industry partners, LTEM was created to increase productivity and sustainability in the sheep sector. The course also focuses on demonstrating the effects of best practice nutrition and management using the producer’s own mob of ewes. For eligible sheep enterprises, AWI offers subsidies to improve access to this valuable training opportunity.

Any woolgrowers or sheep producers looking to gain skills, boost reproduction, optimize ewe performance, and maximize flock returns should consider enrolling in this nationally accredited course. Through dedicated extension programs like Lifetime Ewe Management, the Australian sheep industry can continue to achieve excellence in animal husbandry and farm management.

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