Centre for sheep operations and research infrastructure

Page last updated: Monday, 30 July 2018 - 11:55am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

This Sheep Industry Business Innovation (SIBI) subproject  developed the necessary operations and infrastructure to support the existing facilities at the Katanning Research Facility (KRF), enabling it to showcase different components of the Western Australian sheep industry to overseas investors, local producers and processors.


The department has significant collaborative research projects based at the KRF that support technical developments needed for new value chains in the future. In particular, the Genetic Resource Flock and related projects funded by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) can provide sheep breeding information on important meat quality traits. New product demonstrations such as remote sheep identification, monitoring and labour saving devices are also a feature of sheep management on the property.

Noongar engagement


  • to work in partnership with Noongar landowners to increase their participation in the Western Australian (WA) sheepmeat value chain
  • to support Noongar landholders towards economic development through the provision of relevant technical and/or business training opportunities.


  • Developed and formalised a partnership with the Aboriginal Business Development (ABD) team, formerly Southern Agricultural Indigenous Landholder Service (SAILS) team:
    • the ABD partnership uses an ‘Noongar-people first’ approach to build business opportunities for Noongar landowners in the sheep industry. This led to direct engagement with the Noongar Land Enterprises (NLE) group.
  • Promoted, supported and built capacity of Noongar land managers involved in sheep production in southern Western Australia:
  • Situation statement and needs analysis of Noongar properties in sheep production in southern WA:
    • identified the priority Noongar sheep production businesses and detailing targeted areas of improvement
    • identified Noongar landholders who want to transition into sheep production in the future.
  • Supported Noongar landholders interested in sheep production:
    • provided three groups with business planning and skills development to determine feasibility and most profitable business structures 
    • delivery of demand-driven training to build the capacity of Noongar landholders to transition into and improve sheep production
    • delivered a Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) course for Noongar landholders to build skills and knowledge in Noongar communities in sheep production.
  • Developed a communications plan to guide ABD's and SIBI's engagement with Noongar landholders.
  • Market survey and supply chain simulation study for an Noongar-branded sheepmeat product and premium ‘native’ foods for domestic and potential export markets which might in turn lead to a Noongar producer dedicated value chain.

Outcomes and achievements

By the end of the project, several properties had increased capacity to partake in the sheep industry of WA. We saw an increase in the volume of Noongar sheepmeat production on existing properties farming sheep and an increase in number of Noongar landholders undertaking sheep production on their farms. With increased supply of the Noongar sheepmeat product and set out options to develop an Noongar branded sheepmeat supply chain for the future. Developed some new working relationships with the NLE group and the Food Industries Innovation (DPIRD) project.

New on-farm technology


  • increase the use of labour saving tools and new technologies that can improve labour efficiency, sheep traceability and breeding on farm
  • develop technologies to estimate traits that are 'hard to measure' for on farm.

View a copy of the strategy for increasing adoption of on-farm technology to improve labour efficiency in the Western Australian (WA) sheep industry.


  • Developed an industry support base for identifying and testing labour-saving technologies:
    • a pilot group for new technology was established and met three to four times per year. The pilot group gave specific feedback on various labour-saving tools and new technology. This feedback was incorporated into a series of case studies which can be found on the New on-farm technology for sheep producers webpage. The pilot group had an opportunity to increase their knowledge of new technologies attending LambEx 2016 and included farm visits.  A study tour report on the key learnings from the tour is available. 
  • Information and opportunity investigation - scoping report on the availability of labour saving tools and technology.
  • Promoted the most promising technology and the best practice for management of sheep enterprises:
    • Key technologies have been built into the management of the Katanning Research Facility (KRF). For example the KRF has had remote monitoring cameras on tanks and troughs to make it easier to check livestock water supply.
    • Victoria study tour. A study tour went to Victoria late in 2017 to explore how electronic identification can be used to increase efficiency in managing a sheep enterprise. A report summarizing the key learnings is available. 
  • Supported emerging technologies – sensor technology:
    • the use of sensors to monitor sheep is an exciting technology that could be used to improve reproduction and reduce the labour expenses associated with livestock. These sensors have the potential to establish location, as well as behaviours relating to ewe-lamb production and welfare, such as heart rate, steps per day and grazing behaviour. For more information on the sensors activity visit the Sensors for ewe pregnancy and sheep reproduction article in the SIBI newsletter.
  • Investigated livestock recording apps. The pilot group tested the use of some commercially available livestock recording apps for recording mob movements, animal health treatments and allocation of tasks. 

Outcomes and achievements

The new technology pilot group functioned for over 12 months and was committed to evaluation and testing of new technology. Relevant case studies investigating various labour saving tools were completed in 2015/16 and 2016/17. These assisted with promoting best practice for management of sheep enterprises. 

Resource flock


  • to establish a genetic resource flock for research into developing genetic breeding values for traits that are difficult and expensive to measure such as carcase traits, breech strike resistance and lamb survival rate
  • to demonstrate the benefits of using sheep breeding values in industry (stud and commercial) sheep breeding programs.


  • Resource flock 
    • completion of recording lambing and growth measurements of the annual lamb cohorts and upload to national database (March 2018)
    • generation of data on meat and disease traits from fully pedigreed animals in industry flocks.
    • recording measurements of the annual lamb cohorts
    • continue to evaluate the progeny of industry sires for meat and disease traits to estimate genomic breeding values.
  • Economic analysis of the benefit of the resource flock to the WA sheep industry and cost of operating the resource flock (March 2016).

Outcomes and achievements

In conjunction with support from MLA, progeny testing of industry sires for the development of genomic breeding for meat quality traits was completed. 

Evaluation of impact


  • to measure and report on the impact of SIBI on the sheep industry in respect to its expected outcomes
  • to provide evaluation support to SIBI activities for the purposes of program improvement.


  • Reviewed and updated methodology for the collection of data required to evaluate SIBI:
    • evaluation plan for SIBI (May 2017) – an overall evaluation plan for the project with the program logic and structure for the final evaluation included
    • draft activity evaluation plans (May 2017) – detailed evaluation plans for each of the SIBI activities were completed, leading to a more robust overall plan.
  • Analysed and communicated baseline data for the SIBI final evaluation:​
    • 2014 WA sheep producer survey report (July 2015) – this report provided the baseline data that can be used to evaluate the impact on the project
    • communication of WA sheep producer survey findings– Ovine Observer articles, Australasian Society of Animal Production conference paper and department presentation
    • Agribusiness survey report– this report provided insight into current attitudes of producers and consultants on confidence in the sheep industry as well as mid-term data that can be used to evaluate the impact on the project.
  • Implemented data collection methodologies for impact assessment:
    • maintained a log and associated report of all SIBI communication and extension activities
    • Lamb Survival Initiative feedback survey completed.
    • Most Significant Change assessments and report (lessons learnt)
  • Reviewed, updated and implemented the methodology for the collection of data required to evaluate the project.
  • Stakeholder Engagement Survey – ACIL ALLEN study and report.
  • Implemented data collection methodologies and analysis for impact assessment:
    • participation surveys – to measure the direct impact of SIBI activities on its participants
    • developed 2018 National Sheep Producer Survey in conjunction with the Sheep CRC– obtained final dataset on producer behaviours
    • completed final evaluation report of SIBI project (October 2018) –statement of impact the project has had on the WA sheep industry.
  • Implemented data collection methodologies and analysis methods for the continuous improvement of the project:
    • designed and conducted a review of the Lamb Survival Initiative (LSI) program– undertook surveys of LSI participants with team leader and made recommendations for more effective industry engagement.
    • collated data from wide range of sources to show impact of the project .

​Outcomes and achievements

The evaluation plan guided SIBI in the collection of relevant evidence to show the impact of the project. The process of developing an evaluation plan assisted the project leaders to adjust and improve activities and to be clear about how the activities would contribute to the overall project outcomes. It also helped identify risks and opportunities and helped communicate these links to team members.

Contact information

Justin Hardy
+61 (0)8 9892 8408