Community & Lifestyle

Look after the number one profit drivers — you and your ewes

Agricbusiness consultant Ken Solly, May 24, 2024

Agribusiness consultant Ken Solly

AGRIBUSINESS consultant Ken Solly addressed the increased stress levels that dry conditions in southern Victoria are imposing on farmers at a Glenelg Grass Growers BestWool/Best Lamb field Day this week.

Mr Solly said the most important thing producers must do is to make sure the number one profit driver in their business — “that being yourself” — remains in the best physical and mental health.

“It determines the quality of your decisions.

“First and foremost, you must acknowledge that the season is not of your doing,” he said.

“Many young farmers have not experienced a failed autumn like this one, so they must adopt a quick learning approach.

“If you find you are worrying a lot, you need to ask more questions and gain more information,” he said.

“This then allows for the best possible plan and if you know it is the best possible plan, then just stop worrying.

“Worry does not fix anything it just saps you of energy and sleep,” he said.

Ken said ensuring everyone on the farm is involved in the development and have ownership for the plan means there is less chance of things going wrong.

“The plan needs to be built around what you will and will not do.

“One very important thing you must not do, is to argue, try not to be a problem to someone else and this is usually mirrored back to you,’ he said.

“If you think arguing is inevitable then maybe a third party is needed.

“Life will be tough enough without that extra stress,” Ken said.

Ken said in many cases, having a consultant come and help develop a plan for the next hundred days could be the best decision producers make in 2024.

“Being aware of the happiness chemicals that are needed in your brain to make life better and how to get them can be useful,” Ken said.

“Oxytocin the love hormone can be gained by socialising, physical touch, petting animals and helping others.

“Serotonin, the mood stabiliser, is enhanced with exposure to the sun, mindfulness and nature walks,” he said.

“Dopamine, the reward chemical, is acquired by eating food, achieving a goal, sleep and having a bath.

“Endorphin is the pain killer gained by exercising, laughing and listening to music,” Ken said.

Farmers at the late break field day at Nareen.

“Having an awareness of each of these chemicals and how to increase one or two of them can help reduce negative thinking and mental fatigue.

“In these times, we must continue to do what sustains us and keep the lines of communication open with all the important people in our life.”

Ken advised that while feeding livestock ties you to the farm, and effort needs to made to get off the farm whenever you can.

“A fish and chip evening meal with friends in the local park or an overnight camp along the river could be options – so simple yet so beneficial.

“Life is more than farming; you have a family and community that have needs as well,” he said.

“Spending more time with your kids is so important as they do not have any of life’s baggage and can create a lot of pleasure and enjoyment.”

Ken said keeping lambing ewes alive should be producers’ number one enterprise goal.

“If the ewes are content then there is a fair chance you will be too.

“If you have live ewes then there is every possibility of them having live lambs also,” he said.

“Feeding them appropriately is a must.

“If we limit the damage this year then the recovery will be so much quicker.”

Ken said the region has experienced failed autumns before and come out the other side well.

“Keep talking to your mates and if you find one to be struggling, there are people out there to help.”

Click here to read Ken’s dot points.


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  1. Alison Kennedy, May 26, 2024

    Such practical wisdom Ken! Thanks for sharing. More information, including practical tools and resources, can be accessed on the National Centre for Farmer Health website. This includes Farmer Wellbeing toolkit, Managing Stress on the Farm booklet and Campfire podcasts sharing practical strategies to proactively prevent work- related risks to mental health. Get in touch with our team for more information on (03) 5551 8533.

  2. Steven Harrison, May 25, 2024

    Well done Ken Solly, this is great advice. In the forgotten drought in Gippsland my black tag ewes at the time were fed for three years. I strongly advise producers to sell surplus stock and concentrate on ewes. For the mental side of things, talk to anyone and everyone if you are unable to get off your farm.

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