Sheep to meet future demand on agenda at LambEX

Lambex-5Almost 1,000 producers, researchers and industry stakeholders gathered in Perth last week for LambEx.

When not listening to a range of local and international speakers talk on lamb, attendees ate lamb, discussed lamb and checked out all the latest technologies to make producing the best lamb easier at the three day event.

Here are some of the key messages from the speakers covering on-farm production and meeting consumer demand.

“Sheep to meet future demand.”

Jason Trompf, researcher and sheep industry consultant from JT Agri Consulting, talking on the sheep supply chain balancing act:

“In the past 10 years we’ve doubled the gross value of production of the Australian sheep industry (now $8billion/year) with 70 million less sheep. However, we are still leaking value. Currently only 68% of our ewes are producing a lamb through to weaning – that means one third of the sheep we’re running are glorified wethers. At the rate we’re moving we’ll achieve about 3% in gains in 10 years. That’s not good enough. It’s time to step up.”

Dr Mark Ferguson, researcher and sheep industry consultant from neXtgen Agri Consulting, on the ewes of the future:

“My favourite quote is breed a profitable sheep and learn to like what it looks like.” Mark went on to outline the characteristics of that future sheep which was fast growing, easy care, fertile and robust and growing good quality meat and wool. “I dare you to lead. To be your best and to breed your best sheep.”

Ashley Herbert, mixed farming consultant from Agrarian Management, talking about making complex genetic decisions easy:

“There has never been a better opportunity to generate profit from your sheep. Start treating your sheep like a cropping operation and stop talking about lambing percentage and talk about sheep productivity per hectare – that tells us the truer story.”

He suggested producers need to honestly answer these questions:

  1. What is my genetic vision for my sheep?
  2. Are my ewes fit for purpose?
  3. Could I run more ewes?
  4. What am I giving up by being understocked?

“Meat to meet future demand”

Melissa Clark-Reynolds, foresight practitioner (futurist) and independent direct Beef + Lamb NZ, on preparing for disruptive change:

“There are no disruptive technologies but there are disruptive business models. You should be thinking about is my current business model going to survive the next era?”

Melissa explained there are two certainties facing the future of food – technology is accelerating really fast and over time the price of food comes down (think of manufactured or fake meat as an example).

“In the UK there has been a 6% increase in the number of vegans but a 600% increase in the number of people purchasing vegan food. They are not vegans they are flexitarians – so when they eat meat they want it to be an experience and they want to buy quality.”

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