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Nuffield Scholar’s Lamb Focus

Improving lamb survival and growth rates will be the focus of a study by Victoria’s Tim Gubbins after he was awarded a prestigious Nuffield Scholarship supported by Australian Wool Innovation.

Mr Gubbins, a livestock manager on a property at Moyston in Western Victoria, will study the Merino breed with a specific focus on the period from conception through to weaning as part of the scholarship.

“I would like to explore the use of DNA markers and electronic identification to better understand genetic traits that could help with lamb survival and growth rates,” he said.

“Woolgrowers are always looking to improve their operations and there have been great gains made through existing programs.

“Lambing is a crucial time for any sheep producer and through this study I aim to find ways of making lambing even better and to build on the improvements made through programs such as Lifetime Ewe Management.”

In his work as a livestock manager, Mr Gubbins has responsibility for a Merino flock of 5500 commercial ewes and 600 stud ewes, 4000 weaners and 2000 mixed-age wethers.

The operation has a winter grazed area of approximately 1200 hectares and runs alongside an annual cropping program of around 3000ha.

“I would like to share and extend the outcomes of my studies through small presentations on a local level. I also hope to implement any new ideas or systems I may learn as one of the best ways to demonstrate new knowledge is through working examples,” Mr Gubbins said.

“The wider industry stands to benefit from anyone who can improve the Merino’s ability to conceive and raise a lamb that has the ability to survive to weaning age.”

Nuffield Australia is an organisation providing opportunities to Australian farmers to travel overseas on an agricultural research scholarship, comprising a 16-week program consisting of both group and individual travel.

In March 2014, one group of Nuffield scholars will travel through Canada, United States (California and Washington DC), Mexico, Europe, Brazil and New Zealand, while a second group will tour South Africa, Kenya, Eastern Europe, Europe and the US.

Source: Stock and Land, 24th September 2013  http://www.stockandland.com.au/news/agriculture/livestock/sheep-wool/nuffield-scholars-lamb-focus/2672447.aspx?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter