FROM biosecurity to sustainability and reaching carbon neutral targets by 2030 - there's a lot going on in Western Australia's red meat industry.
And the future of livestock farming was put in the spotlight at Esperance-based grower group ASHEEP's annual conference and general meeting last month.
More than 90 industry representatives and producers attended the event, where keynote speakers provided insight into research trials and projects of interest.
ASHEEP executive officer Sarah Brown said having an opportunity to connect with the wider industry was invaluable, particularly given Esperance's remote location.
"A highlight of the event was the range of speakers - including industry representatives and leaders - to Esperance," Ms Brown said.
"We were able to learn from them and, in turn, they could engage with producers to gain a better understanding of the interests and issues of our region.
"Despite the challenging nature of some of the topics we covered, it was great to get a sense there was an overarching positive outlook for the future of sheep and cattle industries."
Speakers at the conference included Department of Primary Industries Research and Development (DPIRD) sheep industry development director Bruce Mullan, South Coastal Agencies senior account manager Chad Hall, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) sheep sustainability manager Sarah Hyland, Swans Veterinary Service owner Enoch Bergman, Karradale Trading owner Craig Newman, A. O'Meehan & Co owner Paul O'Meehan, Bankwest regional manager Brendon Kay, West Coast Wool & Livestock's Justin Haydock and Danny Burkett, Westwood Farms owner Scott Welke, Elanco account manager David Howey, Western Australian Livestock Research Council (WALRC) chairwoman Bronwyn Clarke, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) industry relations officer Tori Kirk and Esperance farmer and retired rural land valuer Bob Reed.
Ms Hyland's take on CN30 and beef and sheep sustainability for the future was of particular interest to producers.
Keypoints of her discussion included:
Carnigup cattle and cropping farmer Ryan Willing said there was a huge gap between where MLA was and where the organisation thought producers were - compared to where they actually were - when it came to CN30.
Mr Willing said Dr Bergman's presentation reinforced while livestock could do better, they were a part of the solution to climate change - not the enemy.
Scaddan sheep and cropping farmer David Vandenberghe said producers wanted to know more about the "nuts and bolts" of carbon farming, so they could better understand their own impact.
"We want to know where to start," Mr Vandenberghe said.
"MLA has put the CN30 target out there and we want to know how to contribute.
"(A highlight of the event was) Ms Hyland and Dr Bergman's explanation about the methane cycle and gaining a better understanding about what we need to do to demonstrate carbon neutrality or otherwise."
Beyond CN30 target talks, Mr Willing said other highlights were Mr Hall's update on ASHEEP pasture variety trials and Mr Newman's presentation on growing serradella in what was otherwise a 100 per cent cropping area.
Meanwhile, Mr Vandenberghe labelled Mr Howey's drench resistance talk and Dr Clarke's presentation on the Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) project as "eye-opening".
Mr Vandenberghe said industry could be sliding towards trouble, unless producers changed their ways or had access to new actives in drench resistance.
"What is saving us here is the frequency cropping, which cleans paddocks up," he said.
"It is sobering to think about increased drench resistance."
He added that Dr Clarke "put a few myths to bed" with the data she provided .
"It was interesting to see what selection criteria drove production - for example culling ewes, which had lost a lamb.
"While common practice was to remove them from the flock, Dr Clarke's data showed this was not the most profitable option.
"Measure results and perception don't always run true."
Other projects ASHEEP have been working on are FEED365, shearing interval demonstration (six versus 12 months), SafeSheds shearing shed safety pilot project, Mastering Merino Genetics, supporting shifts to non-mulesed systems, shearer and wool handler training school, FMD Ready, MerinoLink, Dryland Legume Pasture Systems and representation on the AWI woolgrower industry consultation panel and DPIRD's sheep and goat NLIS advisory panel.
Cattle and CN30 are the focus for ASHEEP projects moving forward with funding applications pending.
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