YERONG Creek farmer James Male has investigated the merits of finishing lambs in a feedlot system as part of a Nuffield Scholarship.
“Because lamb finishing was a new area of our enterprise and lamb feedlotting is a fledgling industry, I wanted to see every aspect of operational feedlots around the world the feed types, feeding systems, different breeds and genetics as well as improvements that we can make to our own enterprise,” Mr Male said.
He also wanted to use the opportunity to see the global competition and assess the viability of the Australian lamb industry.
“I wanted to see if there was a good sustainable future for it, because we’d been having a really good run with lamb prices and I wasn’t sure if that was going to last or not,” he said.
Following his global focus program, in which James travelled with a group of fellow Nuffield Australia scholars, he turned his attention to his individual study topic.
“I broke it into two parts, our main competitors, which is obviously New Zealand, but I wanted to travel to areas that did mostly feedlotting, and that was actually the US, also our second biggest market behind the Middle East,” he said.
In the US I went to a couple of really big sheep feedlots, and got an opportunity to speak to extension officers and feedlot nutritionists and the feedlot managers and it was a real science they just know how to grain-finish stock over there, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
Assessing whether lamb feedlots can be viable in Australia was one of James’s key goals, and he has emerged from his Nuffield Scholarship convinced they can be.
“It’s got to be like any enterprise, a profitable thing, so it’s your cost of feed versus the price of your product and so for me that was the biggest thing, just concentrating on that feed, getting the conversion, making sure that when the animal comes into a feedlot that I’m doing everything right and they’re going to perform at their absolute highest potential,” he said.
Mr Male said he was a little bit concerned about the present state of the lamb industry.
“So much rides on the live sheep export trade and I don’t think many people realise that,” Mr Male said.
RIGHT: James Male from Yerong Creek assesses the merits of finishing lambs in a feedlot system.
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