Sheep profits lifted with benchmarking groups
GroundCover™ Supplement Issue: 113 | 03 Nov 2014 | Author: Naomi Scholz
About three-quarters of farm businesses on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia,
run both sheep and cropping enterprises. Sheep Groups developed through Grain & Graze 2 have been successful at lifting livestock management and sheep profits in the region
Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, ‘Sheep Group’ workshops held as part of Grain & Graze 2 have enabled farmers to benchmark their enterprises against those of other local growers and implement best practice sheep-production practices to lift profits.
Meeting three times a year at six locations across the Eyre Peninsula, the groups link sheep producers with the latest sheep-production information and technology to improve the profitability of mixed-cropping farming enterprises.
Diversifying into sheep or bolstering the sheep enterprise has reduced the cropping component risk of the business, which makes the whole farm more viable.
Nearly 60 per cent of participants have made changes to their sheep enterprise since becoming involved in a Sheep Group, the first of which was established in 2009.
Benchmarking has enabled Sheep Group participants to quantify what their sheep enterprise is returning on a per dry sheep equivalent (DSE) and winter-grazed hectare basis.
Variations in returns between producers within the same rainfall environment stimulates discussion about how to lift productivity and profits, particularly through reducing sheep losses and increasing marking percentage.
The largest influence on sheep gross margin per hectare is stocking rate, which in turn drives the lamb number and wool production per hectare. Knowing this, the Sheep Groups have focused on ways to lift stocking rate through pasture improvement, grazing management and animal health and genetics.
An increase in stocking rate led to an increase in total net profit across all participating regions (except WA) of about $12 million in 2013.
Enterprise changes inspired by the Sheep Groups include altered shearing and lambing times, increased stocking rates, use of electric fencing to better manage feed budgeting, use of grazing crops to fill the autumn feed gap, use of high-protein supplements to lift weaner growth rates, strategic location of watering systems and condition scoring ewes (see boxed section for participant feedback).
Naomi Scholz, G&G2 coordinator Eyre Peninsula,
08 8680 6233,
GRDC Project Code UA00117
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