Lamb Survival Initiative

Page last updated: Wednesday, 15 December 2021 - 1:37pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Lamb Survival Initiative was a program run through the former Sheep Business Innovation Project, which allowed sheep producers to explore the reproductive opportunities and limits within the ewe flock.

The Lamb Survival Initiative groups identified the critical factors affecting a flock’s reproductive rate, allowing benchmarking of individual property marking rates against other flocks in a similar area and provided opportunities to work side by side with industry professionals to order to lift lamb survival rates and overall lamb turn off.

Just over 6% of Western Australian (WA) Merino and sheep producers and 9% of dedicated prime lamb producers achieve marking rates of over 100%. This means that less than 500 producers across WA achieve the 100%+ benchmark in any given year.

The value of weaning extra lambs will depend on the type of enterprise, but can range from $65 per lamb in a merino system, to $100 per lamb in a terminal system (Young, Trompf & Thompson, 2014). This value is calculated on the profit from extra lambs and ewes surviving in the system, minus the extra input costs required to generate the additional lambs.

The Lamb Survival Initiative provided support for producers to lift their sheep enterprise's lamb turn off through access to an experienced Lifetime Ewe Management accredited consultant, use of key management tools, and a subsidy on pregnancy scanning for multiple births. Local grower groups were also involved to provide coordination of activities.

In order to build producers' confidence and skills to lift marking rates to 100%+ we encourage producers to:

  • undertake pregnancy scanning for multiples on a significant proportion of their adult ewes
  • record and submit data on the reproductive rate, marking rate and weaning rate achieved in the scanned ewe flock/s, so that it can be benchmarked against other producers
  • attend at least one training course or workshop which focuses on reproduction
  • work closely with industry professionals on issues with the reproduction rates of their flock.

The department's Lamb Survival Development Officer, Rebecca Butcher, works with the grower group and dedicated Lifetime Ewe Management facilitators in delivering the initiative.

The 2015 season included participants from grower groups including Facey Group, West Arthur Trials Group, Southern DiRT, The Gillamii Centre and ASHEEP.

The March 2016 edition of the Ovine Observer contains an article summarising the results from the 2015 participants of the Lamb Survival Initiative.

In 2016, the participants were from grower groups including Facey Group, Southern DiRT, the Gillamii Centre and ASHEEP, as well as producer groups located in Boyup Brook and the West Midlands areas. The results of the 2016 season were published in the September 2017 edition of the Ovine Observer. Results from the 2017 season will be published in the December Ovine Observer edition and involved Facey, Southern Dirt and one independent group.

Any enquiries can be sent to Rebecca Butcher at or 9651 0540.


Contact information

Rebecca Butcher
+61 (0)8 9651 0540