Sheep research to help farm profitability

Sheep research to help farm profitability

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A scholarship recipient has researched the most profitable sheep breeding lines for broadacre farming.

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2019 Sir Eric Smart Scholarship recipient Michael Young, an Agricultural Science student at the University of WA.

2019 Sir Eric Smart Scholarship recipient Michael Young, an Agricultural Science student at the University of WA.

RESEARCH carried out by the University of WA has found that the most profitable sheep breeding lines for broadacre farming are Merino ewes mated with Merino or crossbred rams, with the biggest earners being market-weight Merino lambs and crossbred lambs.

The study was made possible through a 2019 Sir Eric Smart Scholarship provided to UWA agricultural science student Michael Young.

Mr Young's research focused on the question of what sheep flock size and structure was most profitable while also complementing the cropping components of farm businesses.

"We wanted to see how different flock structures would affect farm profit, within a whole farm setting," he said.

"Using whole-farm bioeconomic modelling, we found there were profitable sheep flocks that were resilient to commodity price variation, however these flocks do require more management."

Mr Young hoped his research could help support broadacre farmers in the strategic management of mixed enterprise farming systems in Australia.

"Completing a strategic analysis for a broadacre, mixed enterprise farming system can be a real challenge," he said.

"The decision maker needs to consider the range of factors that can affect the relative profitability of each enterprise component, as well as how the components interact."

Hackett Professor Kadambot Siddique, director of the UWA Institute of Agriculture, said that Sir Eric Smart Scholarships had supported at least 20 UWA students to-date.

"The scholarship encourages bright students to research ways of improving the productivity and profitability of agriculture here in WA," he said.

Michael Young's Honours thesis was supervised by professors Ross Kingwell and Phil Vercoe.

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