QUEENSLAND had the potential to double its sheep numbers in 10 years, Leading Sheep advisory panel chairman Don Perkins said today.
The Dirranbandi wool producer said the Leading Sheep network had provided invaluable advice and support on relevant and timely topics such as exclusion fencing, drought feeding and fertility and flock management.
“I think developments in these areas, particularly the gains made by exclusion fencing, have positioned the Queensland sheep industry well and we have the potential to double sheep numbers during the next 10 years.
“To support future growth, we need the network to continue to provide guidance and best practice information,” he said.
AWI said Leading Sheep is funded for the next three years and has received additional funding based on the capacity of the Queensland sheep flock to expand.
The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee last report in April this year showed that the number of sheep shorn in Queensland increased from 1.98 million in 2015-16 to 2.13m in 2016-17 and it is forecast to lift to 2.19 sheep shorn in 2017-18.
Shorn wool production in Queensland in 2017/18 is predicted to fall by 2.6 percent to 8.3 million kgs greasy. The crucial summer rains were again largely absent this year, although there were excellent rains in some areas in March, the report said. However, this rainfall was not widespread and key sheep growing areas, notably the south-west, remained very dry up to April. The newly installed dog fences and high wool prices are boosting grower confidence, but good rains are needed to see a lift in wool production in the state in 2018-19, the report said.
AWI has funded the Leading Sheep network since 2004 under three-year contracts that have recently averaged $156,000 per year up to 30 June 2018. AWI funding for 2018-21 will average $203,000 per year.
The state’s sheep and wool producers are hailing the innovative program as helping them to improve their businesses’ productivity.
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries senior extension officer and Leading Sheep manager Nicole Sallur said currently, 75pc of Queensland’s sheep and wool producers receive information through the Leading Sheep program, with more than 450 new members joining in the past three years.
“Since 2015, Leading Sheep has delivered 48 events to more than 2000 producers, including 15 webinars, supporting on-property changes that deliver profit and productivity gains.
“An amazing 96pc of producers reported they learnt something new from our events and 63pc said the information motivated them to make a business change.”
Leading Sheep is a partnership between AWI and its project delivery partners DAF and AgForce.
“Leading Sheep is focused on raising awareness of beneficial but underutilised technologies, encouraging the involvement of younger producers, and delivering the latest information on best practice animal health, nutrition, predators and business performance,” Ms Sallur said.
Further information about Leading Sheep is available at www.leadingsheep.com.au
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Sources: AWI, Leading Sheep.