Sheep Industry Business Innovation


Welcome to the Sheep Industry Business Innovation (SIBI) project newsletter.

The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) is proudly delivering this $10 million project, funded by Royalties for Regions, to support the sheep industry to capitalise on growing markets for sheep products.

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Register now for free feedlotting workshops

The SIBI team invites producers, lot feeders and agribusiness professionals to hear from feedlotting expert Geoff Duddy at our free workshops later this month.

The half-day sessions, in Darkan (14 March), York (15 March) and Merredin (16 March), have been designed to explore the value behind feedlotting, opportunities to expand production and develop a new dedicated feedlot. The York session will also include a feedlot tour led by owner Scott Boyle.

SIBI Development Officer Steve Tunbridge, who will be a presenter at the workshops, said “Feedlotting is becoming increasingly popular to ‘add value’ when finishing lambs to weight – but incorporating feedlotting into a business requires consideration of location, equipment and costs.”

Guest speaker Geoff Duddy, from Sheep Solutions (New South Wales) is a nationally recognised specialist in feedlotting and was the developer of the Sheep CRC’s lamb feedlot calculator.

“To have someone on board of Geoff’s calibre for these workshops, and to hear from his experience, provides a very unique opportunity for producers” Steve added.

SIBI Project Manager Bruce Mullan said “Part of these workshops will be discussing the opportunities in the WA sheep industry, particularly around export. One recent example is V&V Walsh being awarded a licence to export chilled meat to China, so there is real opportunity out there for those that have an appetite to expand production, and this is just one way that SIBI is working with industry to make the most of it.”

Fully funded by SIBI, the Darkan, York and Merredin workshops are offered at no cost to participants. A fourth workshop will be held as part of the ASHEEP autumn field day in Esperance on Thursday 17 March.

Register your interest now! Contact Steve Tunbridge on + 61 (0)8 9821 3221 or email

Woolorama 2016: ready, tech, go!

SIBI's display at Woolorama 2015

The SIBI project will be front and centre at the department’s shed at Wagin Woolorama 2016 with a ‘show and tell’ display of on-farm technology to increase labour efficiency.

A walk-over-weighing (WOW) platform will form part of the display, as a potential technology for regularly and accurately recording the liveweights of individual animals as they move through a sheep traffic zone.

Also featured will be a remote camera set up at the department’s Katanning Research Facility (KRF), where water levels in watering troughs can be checked at set intervals during the day, as well as an aerial drone, which is becoming increasingly popular in sheep management.

SIBI Research Officer John Paul Collins has coordinated the items for display and will be on hand to greet visitors to the shed.

“One of the most common constraints reported by farmers in increasing their sheep flock is the labour involved. SIBI’s activities at the KRF and in partnership with a pilot group of innovative sheep producers will test products designed to improve sheepwork so that new technologies are used to their full potential” he said.

“For example, the liveweight data recorded on a WOW platform, when coupled with Electronic Identification (EID) ear tags, allows liveweight of individual sheep to be recorded and used to aid nutritional management.”

“Similarly, remote monitoring allows sheep producers to keep an eye on water supplies for sheep on multiple properties, saving the time required to physically drive to a separate property to check on a tank or trough.”

“I’m looking forward to discussing the items on display with producers that have had experience with them, and also those who are curious to find out more.”

As well as John Paul’s new technology, plenty of other DAFWA sheep experts will be on hand so visit us to find out more about Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) and how to participate in a RamSelect workshop, and the refreshed Lifetime Ewe Management workshops kicking off in the coming months.

The department’s shed will be located at site 626 Kitchener Street at Wagin Woolorama, Friday 11 and Saturday 12 March.

Lifetime Ewe Management gets new lease on life

Participants in a previous Lifetime Ewe Management workshop

SIBI is excited to again support the nationally renowned Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) program, now with a renewed Western Australian focus to better suit local sheep producers.

To be delivered by accredited sheep specialists through Rural Industries Skills Training (RIST), LTEM is designed for small groups of 5-6 producers to get hands-on with condition scoring (CS) and assessing feed on offer so that they can calculate a CS budget and set targets to more efficiently ration pasture and supplementary feed.

It also allows producers to make more informed decisions about managing their ewes while optimising stocking rates and managing risks.

Already over 2000 producers that manage over 7.6 million breeding ewes have taken part in the program nationally.

SIBI Development Officer Steve Tunbridge is coordinating the activity in Western Australia on behalf of RIST.

“The department has been involved with the program before and while it’s worked well, we recognised the need to adapt the program to more closely reflect WA conditions and the needs of WA farm businesses ­– including those that run sheep as a secondary income stream” Steve said.

“Another key change made is to keep the program to six sessions however stagger them over two years instead of one, to reduce the yearly commitment in a busy mixed farming schedule and to really see the results pay off over a longer term.”

“Previous participants have reported huge success – stocking rates up by 15%, weaning rate increases of around 15%, plus ewe mortality down by 50% on average. We can’t wait to see how well this WA-focused program performs.”

LTEM is run by expert facilitators from Victorian-based RIST, and is subsidised to bring the participant cost down to $865 for the two year course.

For more information about LTEM contact Steve on +61 (0)8 9821 3221 or email You can also read more about Steve in the next article.

Meet the team: Development Officer Steve Tunbridge

Development Officer Steve Tunbridge

Steve, having grown up in the city, developed his passion for agriculture after spending many weekends and holidays visiting and working on a friends farm west of Narrogin, and as a farmhand for a farmer at Cunderdin. He also spent his university vacations working on the CBH grain bins.

After commencing his career at DAFWA (then known simply as the Department of Agriculture) Steve has worked around the state and in different fields including agronomy, rangelands management, farm planning, wool production and pasture management – before rejoining DAFWA’s Katanning team in 2007.

Currently manager of SIBI’s ‘Increasing business and technical skills’ sub-project, Steve’s focus is in providing timely information to farmers that help them make informed decisions.

“We’ve recently reworked our Lifetime Ewe Management program to meet the latest needs of WA businesses, which now allows for greater learning outcomes to farmers in a mixed enterprise because they have access to an experienced facilitator over 2 years.”

“Another way we’re working with producers on making better production decisions is by driving the adoption of genetic technologies and the use of Australian Sheep Breeding Values for ram selection, encouraging selection based on pedigree information and not just appearances.”

He is also the coordinator and editor of the Ovine Observer; a quarterly newsletter on issues relating to sheep production and research, featuring articles written by DAFWA researchers and industry leaders.

Some of the greatest rewards from Steve’s extensive career have been the relationships built with grower groups, individual farmers, Land Conservation District Committees, community groups and government.

 “What I most enjoy about my line of work is the ability to get to know people from all across industry and all walks of life - it’s great to get out there and speak to people who are equally as passionate about agriculture and the future of the industry.”

He is also an active member of the Katanning community, having served as a school council member, President of Katanning Country Club Tennis and Secretary of Katanning Golf Club.

To get in touch with Steve, email