Goulburn – 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 18 micron self-replacing sheep enterprise at Goulburn are shown below:
- Compared to the period 1970-1999, in 2000-2009:
- Annual pasture production was down by 21%, requiring stocking rate to be reduced by 7% to maintain ground cover
- Profitability was down by 30% as a result
- Looking forward to 2030, compared to the base period 1970 – 1999, the 4 different climate scenarios showed:
- To maintain minimum ground cover, a decrease in stocking rate (DSE/ha) was needed (average 25%), even for the model which had higher annual pasture production.
- The reduced stocking rates lowered profits by 40 % on average, with a range of 21 % to 67%.
- Winter pasture production is increased but autumn and spring drops.
- There are changes that can be made to recover lost profit but there is a big variation between the models. The results are very sensitive to rainfall changes
The impact of adaptations
The following table shows the impact of various adaptations on the profitability of a wool sheep enterprise in Goulburn
- Continued genetic improvement between now and 2030 is critical to offsetting the decreased stocking rate.
- Using summer feedlots in the years when required is usually an effective ways to manage minimum ground cover and utilise the extra winter production. Compared to other locations, Goulburn has the least benefit from this strategy.
- The following management changes: – earlier selling of wether lambs, an earlier lambing date, increasing reproductive rate by 10%, changing ewe age structure, using various rest intervals up to 60 days in grazing – only had small effects by themselves but could be beneficial if combined
- Moving to a trading operation rather than breeding looked attractive but it was very dependant on being able to source the required number of stock. If stock numbers were only 90 % of requirements then the strategy was no better. In reality the risk of not being able to buy the required number is high. Opportunistic trading within an enterprise is beneficial.
- Combining the use of summer feedlots, when required, with current genetic improvement has a benefit now and in the future.
- Other changes will need to be implemented over time as the pasture conditions change, not now.
- A combination of factors will give the best outcome.
- Improving soil fertility to its optimal level would be more profitable now and in the future. By growing more grass for the same rainfall you are able to better handle dry events.