Sheep supply chain approach broadens student knowledge of industry
In the lead up to Australia Day, Katanning’s Kobeelya Conference Centre played host to the inaugural Sheep Meat Value Chain training program.
A select group of more than 25 tertiary trained undergraduates, post graduates and some already in the industry completed an intensive one-week training program in the Great Southern, focused on sheep meat supply chains and markets.
The training program, designed by the Department of Agriculture and Food’s Sheep Industry Business Innovation (SIBI) project and run in partnership with the University of Queensland’s Business School Executive Education, focused on broadening participants’ understanding of the industry, while also encouraging them to pursue career opportunities in the sheep supply chain.
The course was a balance between the theoretical concepts of agrifood supply chain management, delivered and facilitated by Professor Bryceson, as well as an intensive ‘walk-the-chain’ process incorporating field visits and presentations from key industry practitioners and leaders.
Department senior development officer Justin Hardy said that it was inspiring to see the enthusiasm and interest the course generated in the participants and their ability to quickly grasp the whole-of-chain concepts and develop practical and innovative ideas.
Students from five universities, with varied science, agribusiness and other mixed backgrounds indicated that the course more than achieved its aim to increase their understanding of the industry, while also encouraging them to look for career opportunities in the sheep meat supply chain.
Murdoch University post graduate student Steve Connaughton who is investigating DEXA (dual x-ray absorptiometry) imaging technology to predict body composition of lambs along an abattoir chain said he now has a better understanding of the value and importance of his research and where/how it applies across the supply chain. It has also made him more mindful on how he presents results to the sheep industry in the future.
Course participants learnt about all stages of the chain from sheep production (breeding, nutrition), feedlots, trading, retail and live export.
This enabled them to consider a wide range of supply chain issues for both domestic and export of sheep meat including consumer demand and preference, markets, production systems, animal welfare, quality assurance, traceability, pricing, trust, business structures and product development.
The group was treated to an informal talk from Roger Fletcher, owner of Fletcher International abattoirs and gained insights into his vertically integrated business model and the sheep industry in general.
Participants also attended a dinner with sheep producers, held at the modern Katanning Saleyards, taste testing their products from various production systems including dry-aged mutton from Moojepin Stud and hogget from saltland pastures in the Cranbrook region.
In an endeavour to draw out the learning, participants worked in groups towards a competitive presentation on the final day. The winning group developed an interactive program to enhance the consumer experience at the supermarket whilst providing useful feedback on quality and preference to the processor and producer.
The SIBI project is made possible by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions investment.
More information on the Sheep Industry Business Innovation project is available from the department website.