Let’s Talk Sheep Production
FOCUS ON FARMING
Today I want to talk about sheep production and what differs between the top 20% to the rest. Given where the Red Meat sector is placed at present with prices being at an alltime high, it’s a good time to look at your Farm Systems to try and capture some of the added value available. We must recognise that every property is different with topography aspect, rainfall, areas of flats, the list goes on, but it’s important to look at why the top 20% maintain their production year-on-year with the only exception being extreme weather events. That being said, the top performers tend to lose little or no production from events like a drought because they have acted early and are focused on keeping this event to this one year. The top 20% are constantly looking at how they can do things better, easier, or more efficiently by looking at new technology and weighing up the benefits for their own businesses. They are watching new trends carefully to see if there are opportunities, they are missing which could add value to their bottom line. They are not afraid to invest money into their business if they can convince themselves there is a return on investment. For the top 20%, their capital stock is nonnegotiable when it comes to feeding, with ewe lambs on the top of the priority list. A well grown out ewe lamb sets up a ewes’ lifetime performance, so it is important to get this right. This group of farmers are constantly analysing where their condition of ewes is, with bottom ends being monitored and fed accordingly, ewe lambs being weighed to ensure targets are being met and if not, doing something about it. They are also monitoring animal health requirements partially through the autumn to ensure there are no production losses. They are keeping a close eye on weather statistics and what’s happening in other regions weather-wise and weighing up management decisions daily. They are not afraid to sell trade stock to ensure the above targets, knowing that the best returns their feed can give them are in their capital stock. They know the potential of their capital stock through knowing their genetics and understanding their potential if fed well. This makes selling trade stock to capitalize on this an easy decision. The challenge is to make that decision if the season’s going against you. To think of the longer-term rather than focus on the present. As the old saying goes, any early decision is usually a sound decision and if things improve, count it as a bonus. I’m not by any means saying don’t try and finish your lambs but keep a close eye on capital stock to ensure your business is profitable year in, year out. By Ross Harrington. Ross recently joined the team at MCI & Associates and specialises in Red Meat Farm Systems. He has dedicated 20 years to the Tararua District and supports Red Meat farmers to identify and progress opportunities to improve their farms systems. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The information and opinions published should not be a substitute for accounting advice. No liability is assumed by the author, MCI & Associates or the publisher for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on this article.