Boosting lamb survivability at Gulargambone

Lambs Alive participant JB Tancred, The Maze, Gulargambone, with mixed-age ewes pregnancy scanned with twins. Photo: Rachael Webb
Lambs Alive participant JB Tancred, The Maze, Gulargambone, with mixed-age ewes pregnancy scanned with twins. Photo: Rachael Webb

ENSURING lamb survivability and optimising production and fertility within their Merino flock is the main aim for Gulargambone local JB Tancred, who has just kicked off a new program to boost their lamb's durability into the future.

Along with his wife Alison, Mr Tancred runs a self-replacing Merino flock as part of their mixed farming operation on their 3200 hectare property, The Maze. They join 1000 ewes annually at The Maze and about 1500 within the Grass Merino stud the Tancreds have started to manage.

Not only are they starting off a new stud management role, but they are kick-starting a new initiative with their involvement in the Lambs Alive program, recently made available to producers looking to boost their productivity and survivability.

Always placing pressure on fertility within their 18.5 average micron Merino flock, Mr Tancred said in rewarding seasons they were able to get a good joining percentage, and subsequently high lambing percentages, but in tighter years the lambings were harder.

"Certainly over the last few years the biggest challenge has been getting ewes in the right condition score for lambing and ensuring they are given the right nutrition through lambing," he said.

"We put a fair bit of grain into them to ensure they got up to the condition score three for joining, so we got a good joining percentage.

"For us, especially when artificially inseminating ewes, it is really important to get as many progeny on the ground as possible, and carry them through to 12 months."

With lambing starting mid-June and the need for high lamb survival numbers, they were let to Dr Jason Trompf, co-writer of the Lifetime Ewe Management program, and his new Lambs Alive program that offers a personalised program and platform for producers to learn strategies to aid in improving their lambing and marking percentages.

"Certainly from a fertility and optimising production and survivability point of view, your management and what you are feeding and how is important," Mr Tancred said.

"Jason is a real expert in lamb survivability which is why we became involved. The program allows us to tweak our system to get the most out of our ewes, and our twin bearing ewes in particular."

He said the program assisted producers from pre-lambing right through to preparing for the next joining, making it about a seven month program.

Dr Trompf will visit Mr Tancred's The Maze property along with four other producers involved in the program from the local area to be their one-on-one, hands-on advisor as part of the initiative this Friday.

"He will be looking at what we can do and how we can implement strategies to improve," he said.

Lambs Alive program equips farmers

Providing producers with the tools to enhance their lamb survivability, the Lambs Alive program with sheep consultant and educator Dr Jason Trompf recently kicked off with a personal approach to implementing new strategies.

Lambs Alive participant JB Tancred, The Maze, Gulargambone, said while it was early days, he understood the program to be very personalised with phone hook-ups, similar to webinars and on-farm visits from Dr Trompf to discuss the lambing processes, joining, lambing, rearing and how to get the most out of these areas overall.

Producers within the program were diverse in their locations and environments, and range in scale of production, Mr Tancred said. "The program is definitely at least east coast wide, with some running 1000 ewes whereas others run up to 15,000 ewes - there are some big producers in it," he said.

The information provided in the Lambs Alive program is across a range of easily accessible platforms that allow efficient facilitated learning, with more than 50 producers on a hook up recently.

"Through the program we have access to his website with a lot of information and research Jason has done on it. We also have a Facebook group which has a lot of discussion and question and answer type of responses," he said.

With every production system different, Mr Tancred said Dr Trompf was also visiting producers to do one-on-one advising.