Crowd packs in for sheep field day

29 Aug, 2012 12:00 PM
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SHEEP farming is certainly alive and well in the Great Southern judging by the crowd that turned out for the Sheep Easy field day last Thursday.

The day was run in conjunction with Australian Wool Innovation, as part of the Sheep's Back program and was held at Hyfield in Kojonup.

It was standing room only in the Hyfield shed, with more than 200 people, some from as far away as Northampton, Cunderdin and Esperance, cramming in to listen to keynote speakers and see various innovative product demonstrations based around labour-saving efficiency.

Agricultural consultant and Sheep's Back program co-ordinator Ed Riggall hailed the day as a major success and said the combination of sheep machinery and presentations was fantastic.

Mr Riggall said many attendees were there to hear both sides of the story and see how running sheep stacked up compared to cropping, even with the recent dampening of prices.

"From what we have heard sheep still stack up quite well," he said.

Mr Riggall said the strong attendance highlighted that it was the sort of day farmers were after.

"It was a good solid day, there were no boot polishers, tool sharpeners or gimmicks, it was all good stuff about sheep."

Mr Riggall said growers seemed undeterred by industry comments from the likes of Roger Fletcher talking down the meat market or the recent decline in WA wool prices and for most people, being involved in farming was a long-term game.

"You're not playing a week by week pricing game, often it's a 20-year strategy," he said.

"The strategy is just a system, it's not sheep versus crop, it's about getting them to work in unison that is the key.

"Whether the price goes up or down, your system still has to be solid enough to work for the long term."

Drawing some comparisons between growing sheep and the cropping game, Mr Riggall said when you reflected on what's going on with grain prices, people get down in the mouth when they drop.

Three months later they can easily turn around due to a drought somewhere in the world, then things are back up again and everyone is happy.

"Markets do change and we need to remember that," he said.

Kojonup farmer Mark Taylor said with low wool and meat prices it was encouraging to see such a large number of people at the field day.

Mr Taylor said unfortunately growers had no control over price and had to suck it up and get on with the job.

"Prices were not the real determiner of profit and from what we have seen, yield is the real winner," he said.

"Livestock is still an intrinsic part for most business and as growers we have to soldier on, things will turn around eventually.

"The day was great and it was good to see so many new sheep ideas in one place on the one day."

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