Over 1600 sheep producers managing over 15 per cent of the national flock have now either completed or joined the two-year on-farm course. With significant additional investment from AWI the course will now be available to a further 500 woolgrowers at the ongoing subsidised rate of $665.
Developed and run by Rural Industries Skill Training (RIST), LTEM helps producers develop skills to improve animal nutrition, lambing percentages and weaning rates. A survey of 290 recent participants showed on average a 10.7 per cent increase in lambing rates and a stocking rate increase of 1.1DSE/ha and a 45 per cent decrease in ewe mortality.
The latest round of funding allows LTEM facilitators to travel to more remote areas to speak with groups of woolgrowers on their own properties.
LTEM program leader Darren Gordon said the course had proven its worth over many years and played a significant role in lifting the profitability of wool and sheep enterprises across all states.
Doug Hart from Lake Cargelligo, Central West NSW joined LTEM in 2012 and significantly lifted the lambing rate in his maiden Merino ewes. Mr Hart’s on farm story can be seen in Beyond the Bale.
“The positive thing about LTEM is that you see the sheep and pastures over time. We need to make our decisions based on what we have in front of us, pasture and livestock condition – this is not going to be the same each year or season. The LTEM program helps us to be adaptable and the group discussions and interactions are great,” he said.
Central to the skills developed through LTEM is the estimation of the quantity and quality of paddock Feed On Offer (FOO). Through AWI funding a standardised web based database of 450 FOO images is now available for producers and extension agents to better assess FOO in pastures in southern Australia.
The FOO digital gallery has been built across a wide range of production zones, including cool climate, Mediterranean and pastoral species.
An important addition to previous static FOO library is a searchable database allowing users to access images relevant to their region. In addition, every image comes with a full set of nutritional information including protein, digestibility, ME content, legume content and pasture height.
Australian Wool Innovation
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