Research & Development

Sam and Andrew are back for more MLA sheep and lamb action

Terry Sim November 20, 2020

Sam Kekovich in Operation Boomerang

SAM Kekovich’s return and the re-election of South Australian sheep producer Andrew Michael were among the sheepy highlights at the Meat & Livestock Australia annual general meeting yesterday.

The lamb promotion icon is set to return to the fray in MLA’s next summer advertising campaign, sheep meat producers were told yesterday.

At the MLA annual general meeting managing director Jason Strong said production has started on its latest summer lamb campaign that will launch in early January, well ahead of the Australia Day weekend.

“As ever, this campaign will be topical, tongue in cheek, hero lamb as the meat of choice to unite us and it just may include Sam Kekovich driving a tank!” he said.

Mr Kekovich most notably appeared in military mode fighting for Australian lamb producers as a helmeted helicopter pilot in the 2016 Operation Boomerang campaign when famous Aussies from around were returned home for Australia Day celebrations by a team of SAS-style commandoes.

Mr Strong said the ‘beef the greatest’ summer campaign is in full swing, having started earlier this month and would be shortly launching a three-part video series featuring ‘The Beef BBQ Squad’ providing tips, tricks and inspiration to help Australians take their BBQ pride to the next level this summer.

South Australia’s Andrew Michael re-elected

MLA director and SA sheep producer Andrew Michael

South Australian sheep producer and breeder Andrew Michael was among three MLA directors re-elected to the board yesterday.

Before receiving 79.3 percent of votes in favour of his re-election, Mr Michael outlined his skills and industry experience in cattle sheep and goat production. He said he was concerned about the variation in legislative systems affecting goat farming. Unlike in other states, rangeland goats on South Australian properties have to be either removed or destroyed and cannot be retained for ongoing production.

“I would love to see a national system so that we can manage goats for the betterment of the goat industry for the environment and production of goat meat throughout the world.”

But he said his true passion is sheep and was one of the founding breeders of White Suffolks and also breeds Poll Merinos. He said he has been a big contributor to data capture in red meat animals and a supporter of performance recording.

“Over a number of years, we’ve become a leading researcher on property and within the industry, for both reproduction, carcase performance, skin and wool production and also data traceability.

“One hundred percent of our seedstock animals are genomically and DNA-marked.”

Mr Michael said in recent years his family operation had undertaken one of the largest scale projects on Merino skin biology to identify and assess follicle density involved in wool production, matching it with meat production traits.

“I’m extremely passionate about the red meat industry,” he said.

“I believe I have a very proactive vision of where the red meat industry is headed.

“I’m extremely focussed on creating a better understanding of the best practices in animal welfare and animal well-being in a sustainable way within agriculture.”

Mr Michael said he full supported MLA’s vision of “fewer bigger bolder” projects to deliver a higher adoption from projects undertaken.

“I offer MLA a strong connection and understanding of the red meat industry from producers to the board and the industry, I would appreciate your support.”

The other board members re-elected were Victorian cattle producer and current MLA chair Alan Beckett, who received 78.3pc votes in favour and northern cattle production systems specialist and Queensland cattle producer Russell Lethbridge, with 82.8pc votes in favour.

At the AGM, Hamilton district sheep producer Mark Wootton was elected as the sheep producer representative on the MLA board selection committee with 97.3pc votes in his favour. Mr Daniel Radel elected as the cattle producer representative on the committee with 62.3pc votes in favour and Tony Fitzgerald is now the lot feeder cattle representative after gaining 87.4pc votes in favour.

Beef and sheep producers are supporting MSA

MLA managing director Jason Strong

In other sheep meat mentions in the MLA AGM, Mr Strong said key programs such as Meat Standards Australia continue to go from strength to strength, last year delivering an additional $172m to the farm gate in addition to the $198m farm gate benefit the year before while ensuring a high level of consumer confidence in eating quality.

He said 2000 beef and sheep producers received face-to-face MSA training and 2300 producers undertook training via the MSA e-learning portal.

“This commitment to education is reflected in record-breaking national average compliance to MSA minimum requirements for beef at over 94 percent.

“And yet, there are some who continue to choose to be critical of the MSA program. If ever there was a program that shows the benefits of being ambitious and striving to create and capture value through a unified supply chain, then MSA is it.”

Mr Strong also said the Sheep Reproduction Strategic partnership is a long-term program of work aimed at improving sheep reproductive performance and ewe and lamb survival, through optimising management of pregnant ewes, increasing weaning rates and decreasing lamb and ewe mortality.


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