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Sheep Production, Science & Technology

OBJECTIVE

Lower the cost of production of wool on-farm by increasing the productivity of sheep and land, and increasing the efficiency of use of inputs and resources while maintaining Australia’s reputation for sustainability.

OUTCOMES

  • Australian woolgrowers use tools and information to:
    • improve the lifetime welfare of their sheep
    • reduce predation impacts.
  • Research and development provides evidence for improved flystrike prevention, rabbit biocontrol, differential ewe management, improved feedbase practices, wool disinfection and genetic evaluation.
  • Development of agri-technology provides evidence for improved labour efficiency and lower cost inputs.

STRATEGIES FOR 2019/20 TO 2021/22

HEALTHY PRODUCTIVE SHEEP

The challenges are to efficiently achieve lifetime sheep health and welfare, timely pasture growth and more lambs without compromising future productivity. When woolgrowers succeed through genetic benchmarking or adjusting inputs or their management, they want to ensure their gains are not decimated by predators.

Sheep Health & Welfare targets

  1. Evidence of successful development of a flystrike vaccine prototype.
  2. Evidence of investigations into novel pain relief options.
  3. Developed integrated parasite management strategies to minimise the impact of chemical resistance.
  4. Evidence of successful development of wool bale biosecurity tools.
  5. Demonstrate a 10% increase in adoption of welfare improved practices.
  6. Demonstrate a 20% improved capacity of post-farmgate wool industry preparedness for an EAD.

Vertebrate Pests targets

  1. Reduce the negative impacts of predation by 10% by 2022.
  2. Improve capacity to undertake pest animal control by 10% by 2022.
  3. Development of new rabbit bio-controls.

Reproduction & Nutrition targets

  1. At least 1,500 woolgrowers engaged in implementing beneficial feedbase guidelines and practices by 2022.
  2. Increasing Merino marking rates by 0.5% per annum.
  3. Complete the development of guidelines and extension workshops to improve reproductive rates that support the aim of 34% of ewes differentially managed to best practice by 2022.
  4. Improve the understanding of three key areas to address climate variability: effect of heat stress on reproduction performance, best practice for supplementary feeding and management of resilient pasture species.

Genetics target

  1. By 2022, 50% of Merino producers will be using genetic tools (eg Australian Sheep Breeding Values, Flock Breeding Values or wether trial data) in ram purchasing decisions.

AGRI TECHNOLOGY

Automation will bring efficiencies in farm data collection, analysis and decision-making using smart sheep tag hardware, sheep to sheep connectivity, sheep to farm connectivity and augmented reality interfaces. Safe (or soft) robotics are working with humans in other industries which is an opportunity for improving the wool harvesting process.

Hardware & Software Development targets

  1. AWI Smart Tag system delivers at least three practical functionalities driven by sensors, hardware is reliable and durable, and software is able to be updated remotely.
  2. Artificial Intelligence (machine learning) applied for data analysis delivering accurate predictions for at least two sheep traits or paddock events.

Mechatronics target

  1. Proof of concept robotic shearing system delivered.

Novel Applications targets

  1. Proof of concept novel user interface application.
  2. Educational packages to increase technology adoption and digital literacy.

TRAINING & TECHNOLOGY UPTAKE

To be recognised as a valuable contributor to the profitability and sustainability of Australian woolgrowers, through the provision of a broad range of grower-facing communication, engagement and training initiatives.

Sheep & Wool Management Skills targets

  1. 1,500 tertiary participants in AWI leadership and practical skills events.
  2. AWI leadership and practical skills events delivered to participants receive a net promoter score of at least 7.5/10.
  3. 30,000 views of AWI Education & Extension resources online.

Wool Harvesting & Quality Preparation targets

  1. 3,000 novice and intermediate level participants trained by AWI shearer and wool handler trainers.
  2. Ongoing retention rate of 75% of those trained yearly.
  3. More than 1,000 participants in shearer and wool handling competitions nationally.
  4. 15,000 views of AWI Wool Harvesting resources online.

Further Information

For further information about AWI's strategic priorities, refer to AWI's Strategic Plan (PDF 7Mb).