Cootamundra – Sheep – Wool Impacts & Adaptations
Impacts on production and profitability
The impacts on pasture and livestock production and farm profitability, based on a “business as usual” model for a 20 micron self-replacing sheep enterprise at Cootamundra are shown below:
- Compared to the period 1970-1999, in 2000-2009:
- Annual pasture production was down by 24%, requiring stocking rate to be reduced by just 2% to maintain ground cover. But profitability was down by 42%.
- Looking forward to 2030, compared to the base period 1970 – 1999, the 4 different climate scenarios showed:
- Annual pasture production was down by 5%, requiring stocking rate to be reduced by an average of 17% to maintain ground cover, but one climate scenario (English) saw an increase in pasture production and stocking rate
- Winter pasture production is increased but autumn and spring drops.
- Profitability was down by 28% on average, but with a huge range (+15% to -66%)
The impact of adaptations
The following table shows the impact of various adaptations on the profitability of a wool sheep and prime lamb enterprise in Cootamundra
- Continued genetic improvement between now and 2030 is critical to offsetting the decreased stocking rate impacts. Indeed genetic gain alone can largely offset climatic impacts
- The use of a summer feedlot helps balance the compressed pasture production and allows stocking rates to recover to near base levels but with the extra cost of grain feeding . This site has one of the best responses to the use of feedlots, when required.
- Decreasing the lamb age of turn off was better than increasing lamb turn off weights.
- The use of summer feedlots, when required and current genetic improvement has benefits now and in the future – at Cootamundra profitability can actually be increased when these adaptations are combined.
- Other changes will need to be implemented over time as pasture conditions change, but not now. A combination of factors will give the best outcome.
- In meat base enterprises increasing the mature size of the females places additional pressure on the potential stocking rate.