Wealth of knowledge for WAFarmers event

Livestock Field Day and Forum at Kellerberrin

Chief economist for Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre and professor of agricultural economics in the School of Agriculture and Environment at UWA, Ross Kingwell.

Chief economist for Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre and professor of agricultural economics in the School of Agriculture and Environment at UWA, Ross Kingwell.


An impressive range of speakers have been lined up for a livestock field day this week.


WAFarmers is holding its Livestock Field Day and Forum at the Kellerberrin Recreation and Leisure Centre this Thursday, February 7.

Registrations will open at 7am with breakfast provided. 

Buses will depart the Recreation and Leisure Centre at 8am sharp, travelling to the field day sites in the Tammin area. 

For more information about the Livestock Field Day and Forum, go to the WAFarmers website and you will find all the relevant information under the ‘events’ tab, including the full program, registrations and accommodation options or contact Kim Haywood at kimhaywood@wafarmers.org.au or on 0475 944 319.

At 2pm after the field day visits, forum delegates will have the opportunity to engage in a discussion led by Tim Watts, chairperson of the WA Livestock Research Council (WALRC). 

He will challenge delegates to consider what they think are the key barriers to their livestock businesses as part of the rapid-fire discussion session.

Dr Watts, who farms at Pingelly, has a professional background in veterinary science with a particular speciality in sheep health and welfare. 

He has worked as a consultant to a range of veterinary pharmaceutical companies and brings a unique insight into the research priorities space. 

The WALRC presentation at the forum is designed to extract meaningful commentary from livestock producers in attendance in a critical session that will help inform the next round of Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) research priorities.

CSIRO research group leader (Agricultural Systems), Rick Llewellyn.

CSIRO research group leader (Agricultural Systems), Rick Llewellyn.

“WALRC takes every opportunity to drill down into the livestock enterprises and identify what challenges are holding their systems back; and in turn what specific areas our researchers must focus on in order to underpin the next wave of productivity gains,” Dr Watts said. 

“Our aim is to ensure livestock producers have a genuine opportunity to have a say on the next round of MLA research and development levy spending and we want them to do that by thinking first about what are the production barriers currently limiting their system.”

WALRC works closely with its partners CSIRO, Curtin University, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Murdoch University and The University of WA (UWA) to ensure there are strong linkages between the research institutions and the producers who benefit from their research endeavour. 

The afternoon forum session, ably chaired by professor David Lindsay, will include seven highly respected speakers including Rick Llewellyn, who is the research group leader (Agricultural Systems) with CSIRO. 

Dr Llewellyn is travelling to WA from the Waite Campus in South Australia. 

He is also an adjunct senior research fellow with UWA and a board member of Mallee Sustainable Farming. 

Dr Llewellyn’s research successfully bridges practical farming systems, field research and agricultural economics so that farming businesses can make sound business decisions. 

In addition to his work on low rainfall cropping systems in the southern region, he has recently led a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources-funded project,  testing the potential for virtual fencing technology to spatially manage sheep grazing and continues to work with CSIRO’s animal research team on the potential application of virtual fencing to mixed farming systems. 

At the forum Dr Llewellyn will provide an update on CSIRO’s research into virtual fencing and the potential economic and land management benefits for mixed farming of using this technology and what needs to happen for it to become a reality for WA farmers. 

Pingelly farmer and chairperson of the WA Livestock Research Council (WALRC), Tim Watts.

Pingelly farmer and chairperson of the WA Livestock Research Council (WALRC), Tim Watts.

The virtual fencing method used, applying ‘manual’ application of a sound alert followed by electrical stimulus if required, has been highly effective in preventing grazing in focusing grazing in a designated grazing zone. 

Recent CSIRO trials have tested the potential for virtual fencing to be used to manage sheep grazing. 

As well as conducting the first on-farm trials of their type in New South Wales and SA, the work has evaluated the potential economic benefits of spatial grazing using virtual fencing in mixed farming. 

Professor Ross Kingwell, chief economist for Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre and professor of agricultural economics in the School of Agriculture and Environment at UWA, will be speaking about the relativity of different livestock mixes in cropping enterprises. 

Professor Kingwell’s research interests and expertise are principally in farming systems and industry analysis. 

A current emphasis in his research is grain supply chains in Australia, competitor analyses and grain demand analysis.

The resurgence of interest in sheep took a heavy hit in 2018, along with greater regulation of the live sheep trade and politicised uncertainty over its long-term future has seen many farmers’ dis-interest in an accelerated expansion of their sheep enterprises. 

By contrast, 2018/19 is proving to be a year ‘out of the box’ for crop production. 

It’s a year to savour; almost record grain production accompanied by strong prices buoyed by the drought in eastern Australia, a weaker dollar and lessening wheat stocks. 

With the sizeable injection of crop revenues into many farm businesses in 2018/19, it’s easy for farmers to be persuaded that sheep production should remain a minor enterprise on their mixed enterprise farms, but is this really the case given there are some headwinds for crop production. 

Professor Kingwell will outline these headwinds and the sorts of innovations helping to address those challenges and also talk about the fundamental positive changes ahead. 

As nations become richer, they eat more food, especially milk and meat and eat more types of food that rely on grain production. 

Already across the globe, daily per capita calorie consumption has increased from 9539 kilojules in the 1960s to 11,715kj in the 2000s. 

Annual per capita meat consumption has increased from 11 kilograms in 1967 to more than 25kg in the 2000s. 

In China, meat consumption has more than doubled in the past 20 years and is projected to double again by 2030. 

Globally, meat production is expected to grow from 229 million tonnes in 1990 to 465mt by 2050. 

These are some of the positive trends Professor Kingwell will outline, along with mentioning the challenges ahead and what the future influences might mean for livestock and crop production in WA.

Later in the afternoon, forum delegates will hear from an expert panel regarding the latest developments with the live sheep export trade. 

The panel will include chairperson of the WA Livestock Exporters Association David Jarvie, Corrigin sheep producer and Livestock Export Sheep Industry Reference Group committee member Steven Bolt and Graham Gardner from Murdoch University. 

The panel will be chaired by TW Pearson and Son managing director and WAFarmers Livestock Council member Geoff Pearson.

Dr Gardner will give a fast and witty presentation about how Merino lambs can compete with prime lambs in the processing sector. 

Mr Jarvie will discuss where the industry now sits, given the exposure of the activists’ agendas. 

And finally, Mr Bolt will open up the discussion on what the possible production alternatives could be for adult sheep if the Labor government forces a phasing out of the live sheep export trade. 

This unique event blends practical field day visits with keynote speakers giving thought provoking presentations and is an event well worth attending.


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