SHEEP producers succeeding at climate-smart farming will be featured in a series of forums across Victoria over the next four weeks.
Consultant and producer Dr Jason Trompf through his program Lambs Alive and supported from Agriculture Victoria will run four forums on climate-smart farming at Greta, Violet Town, Cavendish and Ararat.
The forums will be hosted by Lambs Alive ‘champions’ at each of the locations. These producers have consistently achieved high lamb survival and have built resilient farming systems in a range of production systems and environments, Dr Trompf said. There is also a strong line up of guest speakers at the forums, who will emphasise that early preparation will be the key to success.
“These forums will focus on making the most of this season and preparing for the next.
“The forums will cover the keys to building resilience into your farming system and demonstrate how you can implement these on farm – they are especially topical given the dry outlook for this Spring.”
Dr Trompf said on a daily basis farmers juggle many factors to make big decisions that affect their livelihoods and the well-being of their families, their animals and the landscape.
“The complexity of this ongoing juggling act is exacerbated by our highly variable environment, but it’s those producers that have established the flexible strategies in their business and deploy proactive tactical decision making and management that can adapt most effectively.”
Dr Trompf said sheep producers need to make sure their farming systems are designed to handle the variable seasons.
“Climate Smart Farming will enable producers to better understand the impacts of climate variability on their businesses and highlight opportunities to improve business resilience in a variable environment.”
Dr Trompf said seasonal conditions across large sections of Australia continue to bite, especially in New South Wales and Queensland. Although most of Victoria has received reasonable rainfall to date, the Spring outlook is for drier than average conditions.
“Yet these challenging conditions could represent a big opportunity for south-east Australian sheep producers that can drive the productivity of their sheep flocks.
“Reproduction is one theme in that, but there are a range of other ways of trying to build a really robust Merino or crossbred enterprise, whatever you choose to run,” he said.
Dr Trompf told south-west Victorian sheep producers at the Sheepvention rural expo in Hamilton last week they were “bench-pressing the rest of the country at the moment as far as production goes.”
But he said Australia this year was probably looking at weaning the lowest number of lambs of the past 100 years, driven by a low ewe base, low scanning rates and poor lamb survival.
“There are some real challenges around that, particularly running your sheep enterprises with the stocking rates and productivity you do down here but in what’s still a highly variable environment.”
Dr Trompf said improving the consistency of profits means that farmers need a production system that can make money across most years, not just the good ones.
“This means we need to be proactive and have strategies in place that can quickly adjust to the individual circumstances of a production season.”
Forum participants will undertake an activity where they critique the flexibility of their own enterprise from an enterprise structure/mix, feed demand to pasture supply, infrastructure, animal management, genotype, business and human resource management.
Dr Trompf said the forums will help producers capitalise on today’s opportunities and aim to “bullet proof” their businesses against varying seasons. They will demonstrate what producers can do on-farm to set up a flexible farming system to cope with variable seasons, using a strong practical focus with strategies able to be applied to make a difference.
The forums will be held at Greta on August 27, Violet Town on August 28, Ararat on September 2 and Cavendish on September 3.
Dr Trompf is the founder of the Lambs Alive training initiative, and a key developer of the Lifetime Ewe Management, Bred Well Fed Well and More Lambs More Often programs.
Host speakers at the workshops will include Dr Trompf, Lambs Alive Champions Lyndon Kubeil, Charlie De Fegley and Ricky Luhrs. Guest speakers will include Agriculture Victoria climate specialist Graeme Anderson, Jigsaw Farms owner Mark Wooton, wool and livestock trading analyst Matt Dalgeish and rural personal development specialist Neville Brady.
Participants at the workshops will also receive an invitation to a group call with Dr Trompf to ensure they have ongoing support to implement strategies outlined in the program. Results from trial work conducted at Greta on Maternal genetics and Triplet management will also be covered/demonstrated.
For more information on the one-day Climate Smart Farming one day forums click here.