Introducing our new staff members

During late 2018 we welcomed three new full-time staff members at Avington. Three farm residents include gardener Nadine Stanton, along with two new Jackaroos Damien Goodman and Emily Webbware, who also joined the team and are settling into work and life on the farm.

Damien and Emily have joined our jackaroo training program as part of our commitment to training young people who want to work on farms and focus on sheep and wool production.

Local Nadine Stanton, has been promoted from the role as gardener to full time farm assistant, now residing on our Baynton road, “Balboora” property with her three daughters ;Matilda (10) and twins Ruby and Maggie, both 8.


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Kyle Cordy 

In June Kyle Cordy took on the role of farm operations manager, Kyle has a key role in the day-to-day operations of the farm, focussing on livestock, pastures, plant and equipment, property maintenance and development, as well as team performance.

Merinos have always been a passion that Kyle’s family share. He grew up on the family farm in Harcourt, where the focus was on growing superfine wool. Kyle studied a Bachelor of Agriculture Business Management at Charles Sturt University in Orange.

After graduating in 2013, he spent two years as a Jackeroo at Avington, and then a further two years before having a year away to gain other experience. This year he secured the job of Farm Operations Manager.

The management team’s continued push for growth as an industry leader in farm management and ethical treatment of their sheep appeals to him, and sees that Noel and Lyndsay show a real passion for the industry as a whole. He enjoys embracing new challenges and seeks out opportunities to grow the business while continuing to help develop best practise quality and procedures.

A keen sportsman, Kyle enjoys playing cricket in his spare time.


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Damien Goodman 

Originally from Traralgon, Damien developed an interest in dairy cattle from an early age, however it wasn’t until he went to the National Merino Challenge in Adelaide at the start of 2018, that he developed an interest in Merino sheep. He found that working with sheep came naturally to him, and he enjoyed learning about wool.

Damien studied a Diploma in General Studies at Dookie and later moved onto studying a Bachelor of Agriculture at Melbourne University. The Jackaroo role at Avington caught his attention because he wanted more hands-on experience working with sheep and wool production, along the comfortable accommodation, management team and staff that he would be working with.

When he’s not working, Damien actively works on projects at the farm, such as building a dog kennel, always keeping himself busy. 


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Emily Webbware 

In 2018, Emily graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Agriculture and began looking for somewhere that she could gain more practical experience. She saw the Jackaroo position at Avington advertised and knew that the highly-regarded education program would suit her needs perfectly. Having grown up in Yea on a property specialising in Angus beef cattle and prime lambs, she allready had experience in the meat industry, but was interested in wool production and wanted to discover more about merino farming.

Emily knew that the jackaroo program at Avington was well-established, and there was an opportunity for hands-on learning, so she applied for the role and was successful.

Emily has many hobbies, including distance running and rogaining (an orienteering sport of long distance cross-country navigation). The Jackaroo role is great for her fitness and keeps her outside where she is happiest. She has joined the local womens’ football team in Kyneton and enjoys the friendly community, along with the great coffee on offer! 


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Nadine Stanton  

Nadine grew up in some of the small towns of north-west NSW and has always been interested in sheep and cattle. Her passion in farm work and country life stems from her rural upbringing. 

On leaving school, Nadine trained in administration and worked in the financial industry, where she eventually became a financial adviser. Having always lived on, or been involved in farms, she developed an interest in gardening.

This became an aspect of rural life that she really enjoyed. 

The gardener role at Avington was advertised in 2018, when Nadine saw the ad she immediately got in touch with Noel and sent in her resume. One thing led to another and before long she found herself in full-time employment at Avington as their gardener. Living off-farm at Baynton, a mere ten minute drive from the farm, also appealed as the role is fairly flexible and accommodates her young family.

Due to the changing and seasonal nature of farm life, so too is her role. Her daily routine might involve mowing the verges of the extensive lane way network which runs throughout the property, mulching driveways on a tractor, maintaining the homestead’s established garden, tending to the 14 bed organic vegetable garden grown and nurtured by principal Lyndsay Henderson or hands-on farm work during busy times of the year, such as shearing. The varied nature of the role is what appeals to Nadine because it combines both her passions–farm work and gardening.

Marzotto and Schneider visit

Marzotto and Schneider visitors reviewing show fleeces

Marzotto and Schneider visitors reviewing show fleeces

On the same day as the Uni students visit, Avington also had visitors from Marzotto Group (one of the largest wool weavers in the world) and G Schneider (a large global top maker).

Both these groups are Italian based and the visit was led by Giorgio Todesco ( CEO Marzotto Wool Manufacturing Company) and Jeffrey Losekoot (MD G Schneider SA).

The Italian visitors were introduced to the Avington traceablity system in the wool shed and as well mixed with the Uni students and inspected the rams.

Melbourne Uni Students

Jackaroo Damien Goodman demonstrates the use of technology in sheep selection.

Jackaroo Damien Goodman demonstrates the use of technology in sheep selection.

Delegates from Marzotto explaining the finer details of wool selection to students from Melbourne Uni.

Delegates from Marzotto explaining the finer details of wool selection to students from Melbourne Uni.

Avington hosted a group of 15 Agricultural Science students in May in the lead up to the National Merino Challenge.

A master class was conducted by Ron Creek, AWN, in sheep classing with all students given the opportunity to actively participate with the sheep in both the Yards and the Ram Shed

Tree planting

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In continuing our dedication to sustainability at Avington, our annual tree planning program has commenced this month. A 15-year strong relationship with Central Goldfields Revegetation has seen an estimated 170,000 trees be planed over six properties, with an annual target of 8,000 trees to be planted this winter and spring. This commitment not only offers shelter for livestock but also contributes to biodiversity at Avington Merino.

Numnuts training day 2nd July

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At Avington it’s no secret that animal welfare is our highest priority. In our constant search to evolve our management techniques we recently came across a revolutionary castration tool known as “numnuts”. The Numnuts castration tool is used to apply a traditional rubber castration ring and also seamlessly administers a dose of ‘numocane’, a local anaesthetic. This alleviates post application pain to the testicles and tail, allowing treated lambs to walk freely and continue feeding unaffected by the process.  

On the 2nd of July Avington was host to a training day featuring product developer Robin Smith (Senesio), Tristan Jubb (Bendigo sheep vets) and Leigh Coglan (Kyneton Veterinary Hospital). This course provided an introduction to the best practice procedures of lamb marking and hands-on training with the Numnuts system. 

Early trialling of the process at Avington shows a remarkable change in lamb behaviour post marking, with no affects or physical displays of pain. Results included an easy unaffected walk back to grazing paddocks and an instant return to normal feeding behaviour.

Given the outstanding results we will now proceed in making all of our 2019 progeny using this method. 

LPA Audit

During June Avington participated in its third Livestock Production Assurance audit conducted by Meat and Livestock Australia since its establishment in 1996.

The auditing system focusses on operational pillars including on-farm food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity.

With our strong commitment to record keeping, best practice and operational transparency the audit was passed with flying colours.

Surplus stock sale

Last week we completed our annual sale of surplus sheep with a line of productive ewes heading to Kangaroo Island, proving the confidence in Avington genetics across a range of climatic conditions.

Lambing surveillance reaches new heights

A new drone will take to the skies this lambing season at Avington, enabling the surveillance of ewes from a safe distance during this critical time. The drone comes with a zoom lens which will allow staff to moniter ewes before, during and after lambing, to see if any are in distress and to keep a watch out for predators. It will also be an invaluable tool during poor weather when lambs are most vulnerable.  

Monitoring faecal egg count

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On 21st March 2019 Avington had Dan and Di from the McKinnon Project on farm to train staff in sampling, measuring and monitoring the worm burden in our sheep.

McKinnon is a consulting group that Avington has a long association with and are based at the Vet School of Melbourne University.

Four staff participated in the workshop and will now be able to carry out accurate faecal egg count (FEC) sampling and testing on farm.

FEC testing enables us to determine the number of worm or fluke eggs present in a specific mob or individual animals and thus measure the parasitic burden.

From this information we can make more educated decisions regarding the need to drench or make stock movements.

By having the FEC testing facilities and training at Avington we can collect samples and get results quickly to avoid unnecessary drenching that can result in resistance.

Low stress stock handling course

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Avington hosted a low stress stock handling course on 13-14 March, 2019.

There were six Avington staff plus eight farmers from other parts of Victoria.

The aim of the course is to foster an environment of low stress interaction between people and animals, to promote a positive attitude to stock handling and to show the economic benefit of a low stress environment.

The trainer, Nic Kentish, was an inspiration to the group and provided training in the shed plus practical demonstrations in the paddocks and yards. We all developed new skills which are being used on farm with our stock.

Pasture Improvement

In autumn 2019 we have continued our pasture renovation program, sowing a combination of perennial and annual ryegrasses combined with multiple clover species over an area of 130 hectares. High May and June rainfalls have seen these newly sown pastures germinate well and place themselves in a great position heading into what we are hoping will be a favourable spring.

Loading of fertilizer onto the spreader truck

Loading of fertilizer onto the spreader truck

The stock pile of lime

The stock pile of lime

Annual Surveillance Audit

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Avington was proud to be the first wool growing property in Australia to be certified under the international Responsible Wool Standard in 2017.

The certification is for three years but an annual surveillance audit is required. The surveillance audit was carried out in February 2018 by Lexi Sturrock of Control Union on behalf of Textile Exchange. Also present was Stuart Adams, Agriculture Standards Advisor- Textile Exchange, the developers of the RWS.

The goals of the RWS… ‘will provide the industry with a tool to recognize the best practices of farmers, ensuring that wool comes from farms with a progressive approach to managing their land, and from sheep that have been treated responsibility.’

 

Avington’s success at the 2017 Bendigo Show

Avington Merino won several awards for our sheep and wool at this year’s show. Our results were:

Tag 150082: Reserve Champion Ultrafine Poll Ram
Tag 161481: Champion Ultrafine Poll Ewe
Tag 150062: Champion Superfine Poll Ewe, also Reserve Junior Champion Superfine Ewe

A great result with seven broad ribbons to the five sheep taken. All placed in their opening classes.

Highest number of merino entries with a really strong depth of field in the ultrafine & superfine end of the shed.

Shed Extension

Other improvements to infrastructure at Avington include the extension of our existing shearing shed. The extension included the installation of additional wool storage bays which will streamline productivity during our busy shearing period. The shed was also extended to cover our existing sheep yards, enabling us to hold at least a full day’s off-shears inside in case of a severe weather event. The protected yards further demonstrate that our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our sheep is paramount, ensuring their comfort throughout the year.

Murdoch University Sensor Trial at Avington

Murdoch university recently undertook a study using sensor technologies on ewes and lambs.

This technology will potentially offer an accurate means for identification of lambs to dams, resulting in the collection of critical DNA data for breeders. 

The sensors monitored lamb and ewe behaviour to match lambs to their dams.

The study will aim to further develop data collection on lamb and ewe behaviour, changes in activity, isolation pattern suckling/licking behaviours, date of conception, date of birth, lameness, Dystocia, cast ewes, early warning of flies/ill-thrift and intake and grazing patterns.

Lambs at Avington were fitted with non-intrusive collars with sensor monitors. When in commercial production, Electronic tag technology similar to the Electronic Identification Device (EID) which is currently in use, will more than likely replace the trial collars.

Lambs at Avington were fitted with non-intrusive collars with sensor monitors. When in commercial production, Electronic tag technology similar to the Electronic Identification Device (EID) which is currently in use, will more than likely replace the trial collars.