Our local focus ensures WMG Members are kept up to date with information that’s relevant to their business. This information is delivered in a variety of ways including; crop walks, field days, workshops and events, as well as the monthly E-news.
Farmers often learn the most about farming when they talk to their peers. There is always so much to learn from your neighbours near and far about what to do and what not to do. WMG livestock commitee member Zac Roberts kindly agreed to chat to WMG mixed farming project officer Courtney Martino about the livestock and pasture management strategies he used that helped during this year’s difficult growing season.
Given the late start to the season this year, what did you do differently?
Twin scanned every ewe. In the past I had not twin scanned all of the ewes, I usually only wet/dry scanned the merinos but I have been working up to twin scanning all ewes, and it was particualy important this year. As a result, I managed the twin bearing ewes in mobs of 200 and they got the pick of the lambing paddocks with shelter. I also fed out a lot of hay and weaned early, at around 12 weeks. Due to the high wool price I had retained some wethers and dry ewes, which I would usually sell, this allowed me to destock when there was a late start to the season.
Our lambing times are:
1 May ( using the ~ 350ha perennials for summer feed and for the twin bearing mobs to lamb down in).
Having cattle as a smaller component of our livestock production has also helped as they do well on perennials over the autumn period when sheep often struggle to maintain weight during that period. The cattle are very useful in weed management as they can be moved around when the sheep cannot due to lambing and increase grazing pressure in specific areas.
What are the major issues you are facing on farm?
Acidity, we plan to continue liming and possibly look into some incorporation.
Non-wetting soils, this problem was exacerbated this low rainfall year. One of our management strategies was to spread feed barley in the areas where there was limited emergence with a Marshall Super Spreader and harrow it in and the sheep did a good job of trampling it in. This was easy to do and provided good coverage.
How did you first get exposed to serradella?
We have been experimenting and trying to grow it for about 10 years. I went on a field walk with Angelo Loi from DPIRD, which was a good opportunity to learn from those who were already using it. I have been quite surprised how resilient it is. My advice for those looking to start using serradella is to follow the golden
1. Have a clean paddock
2. Use a good inoculant
3. Keep on top of weeds
4. Spray for bud worm
5. Maximise seed shed in the first year
6. Utilise the N (it complements a cropping system)
Where do you get your new information from?
Twitter, the internet, Ag Dept, Peers. I studied Ag Science at UWA and have always had an interest in doing things easier, faster and more efficiently. In saying that, it is still a family farm and enjoyment and long term sustainability are a must.
What areas do you think you might expand into in the future?
I would like to focus on maternal sheep and higher productive lambs. In terms of the Poll Dorset and White Suffolk studs I am interested in ASBVs and the use of EIDs. There are some good Poll Dorset genetics coming out of Northern NSW that focus on high production, early growth and muscling. These genetics fit in with our focus of getting more weight onto our lambs to match the grid when selling over the hook to abattoirs.
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