Increasing business and technical skills for sheep producers and industry

Page last updated: Wednesday, 1 May 2019 - 7:45am

This Sheep Industry Business Innovation (SIBI) subproject aimed to build industry capacity, both human and physical, to deliver the volume and quality of sheep and meat required by new markets. It did this by increasing business skills of producers and service providers to the sheep industry.


An investment was made to enhance the skills of producers through the Lifetime Ewe Management program (LTEM), the Lamb Survival Initiative and a genetics extension program to facilitate adoption of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) for new and existing quality and production traits. Further work around identifying and addressing barriers to adoption supported the increased confidence in investing in and increasing productivity in sheep enterprises.

Improving ewe management


  • the training of up to 600 producers in LTEM over the three years 2015-2018
  • the Lamb Survival Initiative would target growers in at least five producer groups to record and measure their lamb survival in order to boost lamb turnoff and grow the flock.


  1. Increased support and awareness of LTEM:
  • evaluation of LTEM in Western Australia - in conjunction with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the department conducted an in-depth evaluation into the success, format and course design of LTEM
  • developed an adoption strategy for LTEM delivery in WA based on the outcomes of the evaluation including the development of a recruitment coordinator role
  • supported the training of new LTEM trainers in conjunction with Rural Industries Skill Training (RIST)
  • LTEM professional development training for advisors and consultants
  • LTEM case studies - please see the documents on the right.
  • provided support for LTEM courses in WA through a co-investment with RIST to employ a WA-based recruitment officer, supported by AWI and Sheep Alliance WA
  • provided industry support through presenting an LTEM professional development day

2. Improvided support to LTEM train the trainer events.Provided support to producers to achieve 100%+ lambing through training, support and mentoring:

  • Lamb Survival Initiative – five grower groups participated in the initial year of 2015 and six in 2016/17
  • 100%+ Club (2015) – support and recognition of producers achieving 100%+ marking, plus a study tour to LambEx and key producers in Victoria and New South Wales.
  • Lamb Survival Initiative groups – coordination of initiative with six grower groups including data collection and analysis
  • Lambing Planner app – the popular Lambing Planner tool has been developed into an app for both Android and iOS
  • Case studies on LTEM participants, producers using ASBVs and Lamb Survival Initiative participants.

Outcomes and achievements

SIBI, together with AWI, conducted a detailed evaluation of LTEM in WA. The recommendations and outcomes have shaped the approach to recruitment, management of groups and accreditation of trainers.

The Lamb Survival Initiative has increased involvement from five grower groups in 2015 to six grower groups in 2016 and six in 2017. Adjustments were made to the program based on survey feedback from 2015 participants.

Adoption of genetic technologies


  • to increase ram buyers' demand of ASBVs from stud breeders
  • to increase number of rams sold and studs with ASBVs.


  1. Supported greater participation by producers and breeders:
  • skills development activities – RamSelect (Sheep Genetics), Bred Well Fed Well (Meat and Livestock Australia) and DataSmart workshops (Sheep Genetics)
  • awareness and understanding activities – sheep field days, ram sales, forums, industry days, four ASBV case studies published and three media releases. (ASBV promotion and education with posters, handouts, app and networking one-on-one):
  1. Developed a strategy for adoption of ASBVs.

Outcomes and achievements

A comprehensive ‘Adoption of ASBVs’ strategy was completed and used to inform the approach for the rest of the project. Since the start of 2015 until the end of the project we had six RamSelect, three Bred Well Fed Well (BWFW), and five DataSmart workshops delivered to 100+ participants (plus two RamSelect and three BWFWs organised by other people). There was an increase in rams with ASBVs sold; by 18.5% from 2014 to 2016 (45.2% rams sold with ASBVs in 2016).

For further detail on this activity please visit the Adoption of Genetic Technologies webpage.

Barriers to adoption


  • to have a better understanding of the barriers to adoption for sheep producers to increase supply and improve efficiency of production
  • to develop detailed analysis and background knowledge on impacts of sheep in the farming business.


  1. Determined the contributors to current and proposed profitable sheep businesses:
  1. Investigated the social and business barriers to producers increasing investment in sheep production:
  • Barriers to Adoption desktop study (May 2016) – detailed analysis of previous studies commissioned by SIBI and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and other industry surveys on why producers are moving out of sheep

3. Researched new models for increasing production capacity on existing farms:

Outcomes and achievements

Price-cost analysis for out of season lamb production report was produced to increase producer confidence in adapting to new production systems and overcoming barriers to implementing an alternative system. Explored the feasibility of getting back into sheep with the development of the ‘cost of getting into sheep analysis’ . Inspired producers to look at the top 25 sheep producers for ideas to expand or improve their own enterprise through the ‘understanding the business of 25 top sheep producers analysis.

Business skills development


  • to improve the financial literacy and business skills of sheep farmers leading to more profitable and economically sustainable businesses
  • to build business confidence to maintain and attract additional investment
  • to enhance capital availability and innovation in financing to increase industry growth.


  1. Enhancing capital availability and innovation in financing:
  1. Building business skills for producers:
  • producers' business skills events – utilised the commissioned reports from the Barriers to adoption activity including the price cost analysis for out-of-season prime lamb production, cost of getting into sheep analysis, the comparative enterprise economics, understanding the business of 25 top sheep producers and the opportunity for growing out of season lambs, presented at 100%+ Club Dinner, 2016 Agribusiness Sheep Updates and Processor and Live Exporter Alliance workshops
  • Business information for sheep enterprises website

  • feedlotting decision workshops delivered to more than 100 participants at Darkan, York, Katanning, Moora, Esperance and Merredin.
  1. Building business confidence:
  • utilised the study from Grain and Graze 3 on risk management by David Cornish to build confidence in the sheep industry with a presentation at Agribusiness Sheep Updates
  • conducted a professional development day for consultants and agronomists on pastures.

4. Investigated the opportunities for building a profitable value chain via dedicated feedlotters and backgrounders.

Outcomes and achievements

Financial literacy was improved through a series of 5 webinars focussing on farm business performance. These webinars are now available here (insert link). A study into alternative investment and financial modelling was finalised along with a sheep industry business model report. Business confidence was improved through workshops focussing on producing viable business model alternatives, sheep feedlot performance and understanding the business of top 25 sheep producers.

Contact information

Rebecca Butcher
+61 (0)8 9651 0540