Sounness takes the challenge

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Shannon HamptonCountryman
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A Great Southern farmer is on track to increase productivity and profitability at his Amelup farm as part of the inaugural Meat and Livestock Australia Challenge.

Fifth-generation mixed crop and sheep farmer Marcus Sounness, from Amelup, is one of six Australian farmers selected for the 12-month challenge, with the winner to receive a grant to support ongoing professional development.

Mr Sounness has spent the first three months of the challenge with his wife Shannon, setting production targets around lambing.

Since starting the challenge, the farmer had a lambing percentage of 84 per cent, but ended the first quarter with a percentage of 76 per cent due to a severe winter storm wiping out 300 lambs.

He is also working to improve ewe condition scores from 3 to 3.2 for twinners and from 2.8 to 3 for singles.

Mr Sounness said being involved in the challenge had encouraged the couple to continually improve their business.

"It's overwhelmingly motivated my wife and I to really build ourselves as a business partnership," he said. "It's got us fired up to do a lot of work and we've set ourselves up now for the future to keep performing and keep a profitable livestock enterprise."

The next step for the Paper Collar Gully manager is to instil the knowledge of Kojonup farmer Rob Warburton in the effort to continue to improve the farm's production system.

Mr Sounness said farmers followed the competition by following each challenger's blog.

"There's some beef producers in Queensland and from New South Wales and Tassie who are doing a great job … give us a bit of encouragement and follow us on the blog because there are a lot of other people who can gain from it," he said.

"I hope they do something similar to us and get inspired and work at making their businesses better, because ultimately that's why we're doing it - to help other people in the industry."

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