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Plenty on agenda at LambEx forum

Cally Dupe and Peter MilneCountryman
Arthur River sheep producer Brad Wooldridge is trialling tracking collars.
Camera IconArthur River sheep producer Brad Wooldridge is trialling tracking collars. Credit: Bob Garnant

Record-breaking prices and swirling debate about the future of live export will set an unprecedented scene as the nation’s sheep industry gathers this weekend.

Perth will host the nation’s premium sheepmeat industry forum LambEx for the second time in the event’s nine-year history from this Sunday to next Tuesday.

The biennial event brings together producers, processors, researchers and service and education providers, from all over Australia as well as internationally, to discuss all facets of the industry.

Among the line-up of WA, national and international speakers are Charlie Arnot from the US Centre for Food Integrity, who will speak on building consumer trust, and Melissa Clark-Reynolds from Beef and Lamb NZ, who will discuss the disruption technology will bring to the sheep business.

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Brad Wooldridge displays the two-week movement of his sheep from data downloaded from the use of tracking collars.
Camera IconBrad Wooldridge displays the two-week movement of his sheep from data downloaded from the use of tracking collars. Credit: Bob Garnant

Sheep producer Brad Wooldridge, who farms at Arthur River and Kalgan, was one of five WA farmers asked to speak at the event.

He and his wife Tracy have been working with researchers since the early 1980s.

“We are fortunate to now be involved in a number of projects... and are excited about the amount of tech that is moving into this area but mindful that what we adopt needs to create a return in the time and money invested,” he said.

He will use his time before lunch on Tuesday to talk about using technologies such as virtual fencing, high-resolution satellites and the capacity to integrate cropping variable rate technology with pastures.

Mr Wooldridge will ask whether these technologies will transform sheep feeding operations in the next decade.

Another WA sheep farmer presenting to the nation’s sheep farmers is Wagin’s Clayton South who is applying technology to drive profitability through a better understanding of genetics and breeding values.

Dardanup-based Kirk Reynolds will talk about how he manages pasture to turn-off up to 1000 lambs a year. He uses detailed performance and profit records of the last five years to fine-tune a system that optimises market opportunities and land capacity.

Woodanilling sheep producer Bindi Murray, who serves on the board of Sheep Producers Australia, has helped to coordinate the event as chairwoman. She said it was fantastic that WA was hosting LambEx for the first time since the inaugural LambEx.

Ms Murray said there might be some tickets still available and suggested those interested checked the online registration. “We have got good prices, which is fantastic but there are a whole lot of other things going on around the industry to reflect on,” she said.

She said attendees would have the opportunity to better understand the bulk markets that are so important for WA and the vital role of animal welfare in the industry’s continued social licence.

The LambEx 2018 Young Guns Competition to find the “next generation of lamb leaders” will have its second round at Lambex. Contenders will give short talks and then be quizzed by the judging panel.

Ms Murray said the support of sponsors, industry and grass roots volunteers had been vital to bringing LambEx back to WA. LambEx will be held at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from Sunday, August 5, to Tuesday, August 7.

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