MERINO flocks will be the focus of an expansion of the popular Lifetime Ewe Management program (LTEM), underpinned by a new $1.6-million investment from Australian Wool Innovation.
More than 2400 sheep producers managing about a quarter of the national ewe flock have participated in LTEM. The latest funding of more $1.6 million is to expand the program to about 1400 additional sheep producers over the next three years, with a particular focus on Merino specialists.
LTEM improves sheep producers’ understanding of the influence ewe nutrition and management has on the performance of both the ewe and her progeny. LTEM participants have typically recorded a lift in weaning rates of 7-8 percent and a significant reduction in ewe mortality.
The program is managed by Rural Industries Skill Training (RIST) and facilitated via sheep industry consultants. LTEM is based on groups of five to seven wool producers that meet six times per year. During each hands-on session the groups visit each participating farm and develop the skills and confidence needed to increase reproduction efficiency. The LTEM program was developed using the research outcomes of the AWI funded Lifetime Wool project (2001-08).
General Manager of research with AWI, Dr Paul Swan, said since 2005, AWI has invested $59 million in animal health and welfare research, development and extension which included funding for 70-75 percent of all LTEM training sessions since the program started in 2006/07.
“The success of LTEM fits well with the new strategic intent of the company to increase the reproduction rate of the national flock and in particular, Merino ewes.
“For this reason, we are looking at focusing our investment on the first year of the LTEM course so more levy payers benefit and AWI maximizes the return on investment for our levy payers,” Dr Swan said.
“At the same time, we are piloting new initiatives such as the mob-size lambing project, the Merinos-to-market workshop and Lambs Alive training course which build on and complement the LTEM foundation.”
Rural Industries Skill Training chief executive officer Bill Hamill welcomed the new assistance.
“I commend AWI for their confidence and continued financial investment in the LTEM Program which continues to have a significant positive impact on the productivity and profitability for the wool grower participants in this program.
“LTEM is one of the most successful training programs to have been delivered in the wool industry and AWI’s ongoing support is demonstration of the positive future for the wool industry in Australia.”
To start a LTEM group or to find out more information about the program, please contact RIST on 1800 883 343 or head to www.wool.com/LTEM.