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On-farm producer demonstrations to validate R&D

Regionally specific tactics to optimise feedbases and boost livestock reproduction will be trialed at sites across Australia in the next three years.

Groups in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania have each received up to $25,000 for seven different projects as part of the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Producer Demonstration Sites (PDS) program in 2017-18.

The PDS projects will be run in conjunction with farming systems groups and will investigate, develop and encourage adoption of strategies to improve sheep and cattle performance and business profits for group members and other local producers.

MLA General Manager – Producer Consultation and Adoption, Michael Crowley, said the PDS program was designed to help reduce the time lag between technological innovations and on-farm adoption.

Mr Crowley said farming systems groups were ideally placed to coordinate the demonstration sites to assess practices that would suit their region’s specific environmental, seasonal and farming system considerations.

“Establishing these sites helps producers to realise the benefits from the practical application of new technologies and instigation of innovative management ideas relevant to their production system and location,” Mr Crowley said.

“This leads to higher rates of adoption of new research and management strategies that ultimately contribute to a business’ bottom line through reducing costs or improving productivity.”

The 2017-18 sheep and cattle projects to be carried out through the MLA PDS program will be aligned with regional priorities.

In NSW, the Mandurama Young Farmer Group will investigate ways to increase winter pasture feed availability to better manage breeding ewes and achieve more weaned kilograms of lamb per hectare.

Its aim is to trial tactics to lift stocking rates by up to 20% at five PDS locations in the Blayney, Millthorpe, Errowanbang and Mandurama regions.

High production annual forage options in perennial grazing systems will be trialed in Victoria by the Perennial Pasture Systems group on the farms of 12 members with the aim of boosting lamb production systems.

Also in Victoria, the Willaura Best Wool Best Lamb group plans to investigate how temporary fencing can reduce paddock size and ewe mob size during lambing to better manage ewe nutrition and enhance lamb survival.

Across the Tasman, the Tamar Valley Farmers Group will explore improved pasture varieties and management practices – and animal nutrition and production responses – at five PDS locations in the Tamar Valley region.

The aim is to find options for better adapted, persistent and productive pastures that are able to cope with changing environmental conditions and lift local livestock productivity by at least 10%.

Innovations in better using livestock feed sources from the cropping enterprise will be evaluated as part of two PDS projects in WA that will explore grazing of chaff cart residue and crop grazing.

The Gillami group in the State’s southern grainbelt will focus on grazing chaff cart dumps/piles to help fill the region’s typical summer and autumn feed gap.

The aim is to use this low-cost feed source to improve sheep condition and weight, reduce supplementary feed costs and lift profitability by achieving higher lambing percentages.

Also in southern WA, the Facey Group and Southern Dirt groups will establish demonstrations on four properties to weigh-up the challenges, benefits and economics of crop grazing to both the livestock (such as condition score and Feed on Offer) and cropping (such as crop yield) enterprises.

The ASHEEP group, based near Esperance in WA, will use the PDS program to assess improved heifer productivity from integrating Fixed Time Artificial Insemination (FTAI) into 20 local commercial cow enterprises.

Its members want to assess whether this can help reduce incidence of heifer dystocia and lift the calving performance of maiden heifers by tightening the joining period and using semen from genetically superior sires.

Source: MLA

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