LIVESTOCK consultants of the future are being equipped with the skills and tools to use the latest genetics technology through an innovative project designed to safeguard the future of the advisory industry.
The Future Livestock Consultants project is funded through participating consulting firms and the Meat & Livestock Australia Donor Company (MDC) and provides two-year internships for nine young professionals seeking a career in red meat and livestock consultancy.
The first intake of interns had a recent retreat at Hamilton in south-west Victoria as part of their professional development program. It included an on-farm sheep genetics workshop, delivered by Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) industry engagement and training co-ordinator Lu Hogan and Steve and Debbie Milne, Waratah White Suffolks, Hamilton.
Participating consulting firms have funded the project in partnership with the MDC, which is trialling a new approach to attract and retain professional private consultants for the red meat and livestock industries.
The process involves the creation of a national network of consultants, which is underpinned by training and professional development to the interns. Sheep CRC is assisting with components of the technical training and skills development.
The interns, who are located across Australia within existing businesses, are also completing the UNE Graduate Certificate in Agricultural Consulting, a course developed by the Sheep CRC.
Mrs Hogan said the on-farm workshop at Hamilton provided training in understanding Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) and how they can add value to sheep businesses, and how ram breeders collect and submit data to Sheep Genetics to generate the ASBVs.
“The interns also learnt how to use the RamSelect app to rank and select rams for a business.
“Other Sheep CRC initiatives were also discussed, including the development of the Wellbeing App and the potential of genomic testing to increase genetic gain.”
Sheep industry advisory and extension landscape is changing
Sheep CRC’s involvement in the project is one way it’s working to help address Australia’s rapidly changing advisory and extension landscape.
“In 2008, CRC research identified that extension and advisory services were changing in the sheep industry.
“With the reductions in state government funding and aging advisors, there is a need to support the development of a new generation of livestock consultants and advisors. This MDC Future Livestock Consultants project is working well to find solutions to this issue,” Mrs Hogan said.
Meridian Agriculture is managing the project and director, Mike Stephens, said it’s important to develop the next generation of consultants and advisors as well as support their potential employers.
“There’s an increasing number of agriculture graduates and a decreasing capacity of traditional first-time employers to take on new graduates and provide the training and support they need.
“The idea of this project is that by the time the interns have completed the two years, there will be nine people who are fully equipped to work as livestock consultants,” Mr Stephens said.
More information on RamSelect is available from www.sheepcrc.org.au.
Source: Sheep CRC.