The following is a summary submitted with the application. It will be updated when the student’s abstract/thesis is received.
Merino sheep producers of the Southern Midlands region of Tasmania have expressed interest in deepening their knowledge of what is the most suitable production system (dryland with faba bean feed vs irrigated Lucerne/clover pasture) to run recently weaned Merino wethers prior to being placed on winter wheat crops. With the increase in water availability through the introduction of irrigation schemes in the local area, there is the possibility of putting wethers on irrigated pasture to see whether greater production (live weight, fleece weight, desirable fibre diameter) and general health benefits (appropriate body condition score for age, low faecal egg counts) can be achieved. These measurements/samples will be obtained during weaning, drenching and shearing. Other meaurements including NDF levels of the feeds incorporated into the two different systems will also be taken to enable further comparison.
This project will enable us to obtain a greater understanding of how Merino wether weaner lambs perform under different systems available to farmers in the Southern Midlands. Outcomes of the project include allowing the researchers to relay this information effectively back to producers for them to implement in the following season. Economic thresholds will be used after the results have been analysed to determine which system is both productive and economically viable. For example, it is plausible that the irrigated system may enable greater production levels in the wethers but the cost to run them on that system is not viable. Due to the close association of this project with Stockman Stud, these directly applicable results and information exchange will be possible. Therefore, the overall outcome of this project will be the benefits of potentially finding a system that is more appropriate for both sheep health and productivity, and a system which will provide the local producers with an opportunity to increase their production and profitibility.