LAMBEX 2014 will long be remembered as one of Australia's great agricultural events, with close to 900 delegates converging on the Adelaide Showgrounds last week and many more streaming the event live online from the paddock or home office.
More than 750 early bird registrations flowed more received to the end of May, and the biennial event was a sell-out a month before the conference began.
It easily surpassed the two previous crowds at Bendigo in 2012 and Perth in 2010, attracting delegates from across Australia, and some from New Zealand and Argentina.
For a state with just 11 per cent of the nation's sheep population, it was a tremendous feat for SA, driven by the whole supply chain from platinum sponsors PIRSA to stud and commercial producers, researchers, service providers and butchers.
The conference speakers highlighted an exciting future for Australian producers with emerging markets developing a taste for lamb.
Developed countries are eating less meat but these ageing populations want high quality, sustainably-produced meat such as lamb, and are prepared to pay for it.
Innovation and technological developments in genomics and research on developing abattoir measurements for intramuscular fat and lean meat yield should improve the profitability and efficiency of the industry.
However, there are a few challenges which need to be tackled head on, such as the consumer perception of the industry and the looming threat of wild dogs.
More than a tonne of premium lamb donated by the state's two export processors – Thomas Foods International and JBS – was consumed during the event.
Across the two days of the conference, the menu by O'Brien Catering Group featured the whole carcase, from pickled lamb's tongue to slow cooked pressed shoulder of lamb.
LambEx chairman Allan Piggott was "overwhelmed by the response" which saw organisers turn away at least 200 interested participants after the delegate capacity was reached.
The terrific season and lamb prices near $6 a kilogram carcaseweight have the industry on a high but the biggest key success factor was the people involved.
"We had a largish but very good committee who were very well connected, and then the broader reference group of 60 or so people who also had some great ideas," Mr Piggott said.
Two key groups that organisers had especially wanted to engage with – young producers and SA Merino breeders – embraced the event.
"Young people are the future of our industry and a lot are taking up the new technology that is available such as genomics, the new horizon of sheep breeding where we can identify elite animals based on their DNA sequencing," Mr Piggott said.
* Full report in Stock Journal, July 17, 2014 issue. Like Stock Journal on Facebook