Dorpers to graze Malay palm plantation

Dorpers to graze Malay palm plantation


Sheep
Cattle graze in the palm plantations in Malaysia.

Cattle graze in the palm plantations in Malaysia.

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About 400 head of Western Australian Dorpers may be heading to Malaysia

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ABOUT 400 head of WA Dorpers may be heading to Malaysia after Douwana Dorpers stud principal Kim Batten and veterinarian Bob Nickels visited the nation last month.

Mr Batten said they travelled to the Sabah and Sarawak regions in Malaysia in mid-October, where they visited three palm oil estates of “a progressive, forward-thinking plantation owner, who is widening his palm rows to allow for some use of machinery”.

“Almost all palm is harvested, fertilised and sprayed by hand,” Mr Batten said.

“The plantation owner we visited is moving to spraying and fertilising with machines although not yet harvesting due to a lack of purpose-designed equipment.

“By widening the rows to allow for machinery, more sunlight is able to penetrate through the plantation providing an opportunity to run livestock.”

Mr Batten said they had observed cattle operations in the plantations to see how successful they had been.

“Though not as productive as an Australian cattle operation, the cattle seemed happy in reasonable condition and were reproducing,” he said.

“Worm numbers were low and the feed source was abundant with the cattle eliminating the need for spraying under the palms, which the owner said was a major win for him as this plantation previously was what we would refer to as a jungle.”

Mr Batten said the plan was for 400 breeding ewes to be sent to Sabah early in 2019 with some Dorper rams.

The sheep would hopefully be sourced from within WA, although no deal has been signed yet.

“There’s huge potential,” Mr Batten said.

“The issue will be whether the sheep survive and multiply over there.

“They haven’t dealt with a lot of livestock so it may open doors for Aussie livestock handlers to go across and teach and assist them to get their operation up and running.

“The selection of ewes will need to be based on complete shedding to give the project the best chance of success.”

Mr Batten said the main interest in running livestock beneath the palms was for weed control and with more than 100 millimetres of monthly rainfall and humid conditions, the sheep would have shelter when conditions aren’t suitable for outdoor grazing.

“We hope the sheep can run outside for at least 80 per cent of the time as projects running in west Malaysia with sheep fully housed are not providing very good results,” he said.

Mr Batten said “education on livestock management will play a large part as Malaysians have very limited knowledge in this area”.

“We have seen Dorper go into the sub-zero climates of Inner Mongolia and Russia, thrive in the arid areas of Australia and South Africa and adapt to the southern highlands of Australia.

“This will be a big test for our hardy breed, however, with good management I see no reason why they can’t provide an alternative source of income for these farmers.”

Mr Batten said while in Kuching they met with Serawak government officials who expressed an interest in what they were planning to do.

“They will be watching and hoping this project works, then it’ll expand into that region,’’ he said.

“Our job is to make it work.”

Mr Batten said with “live export bans looking likely in the future these farmers are looking to fill a gap in their market”.

“Good luck to them for giving it a go,” he said.

Mr Batten said Malaysian farmers faced labour shortages which were creating the need to diversify and change their management systems.

after Douwana Dorpers stud principal Kim Batten and veterinarian Bob Nickels visited the nation last month.

Mr Batten said they travelled to the Sabah and Sarawak regions in Malaysia in mid-October, where they visited three palm oil estates of “a progressive, forward-thinking plantation owner, who is widening his palm rows to allow for some use of machinery”.

“Almost all palm is harvested, fertilised and sprayed by hand,” Mr Batten said.

“The plantation owner we visited is moving to spraying and fertilising with machines although not yet harvesting due to a lack of purpose-designed equipment.

“By widening the rows to allow for machinery, more sunlight is able to penetrate through the plantation providing an opportunity to run livestock.”

Mr Batten said they had observed cattle operations in the plantations to see how successful they had been.

“Though not as productive as an Australian cattle operation, the cattle seemed happy in reasonable condition and were reproducing,” he said.

“Worm numbers were low and the feed source was abundant with the cattle eliminating the need for spraying under the palms, which the owner said was a major win for him as this plantation previously was what we would refer to as a jungle.”

Mr Batten said the plan was for 400 breeding ewes to be sent to Sabah early in 2019 with some Dorper rams.

The sheep would hopefully be sourced from within WA, although no deal has been signed yet.

“There’s huge potential,” Mr Batten said.

“The issue will be whether the sheep survive and multiply over there.

“They haven’t dealt with a lot of livestock so it may open doors for Aussie livestock handlers to go across and teach and assist them to get their operation up and running.

“The selection of ewes will need to be based on complete shedding to give the project the best chance of success.”

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Mr Batten said the main interest in running livestock beneath the palms was for weed control and with more than 100 millimetres of monthly rainfall and humid conditions, the sheep would have shelter when conditions aren’t suitable for outdoor grazing.

“We hope the sheep can run outside for at least 80 per cent of the time as projects running in west Malaysia with sheep fully housed are not providing very good results,” he said.

Mr Batten said “education on livestock management will play a large part as Malaysians have very limited knowledge in this area”.

“We have seen Dorper go into the sub-zero climates of Inner Mongolia and Russia, thrive in the arid areas of Australia and South Africa and adapt to the southern highlands of Australia.

“This will be a big test for our hardy breed, however, with good management I see no reason why they can’t provide an alternative source of income for these farmers.”

Mr Batten said while in Kuching they met with Serawak government officials who expressed an interest in what they were planning to do.

“They will be watching and hoping this project works, then it’ll expand into that region,’’ he said.

“Our job is to make it work.”

Mr Batten said with “live export bans looking likely in the future these farmers are looking to fill a gap in their market”.

“Good luck to them for giving it a go,” he said.

Mr Batten said Malaysian farmers faced labour shortages which were creating the need to diversify and change their management systems.

Aa

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