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.

Commitment to Education–2018 Jackaroo Program

Avington has welcomed two new jackaroos to our Jackaroo Education Program, Grace Teate and Sophie Buntine. We recently conducted a ‘Q + A’ with them both to gain an insight into life on the farm for our jackaroos.


Grace Teate

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Tell us about your background

I grew up on a large sheep property near Naracoorte in SA with 4000 cross-bred ewes. There’s a photo of me as a two year old on a wool table playing with wool.

When did you decide you wanted to be a Jackaroo?

After I finished school in 2014 I worked at home on the farm with dad and also at Landmark in Naracoorte for a year. In 2016 I joined ‘Hay inc.’ (a group of enthusiastic Hay District community members who are focused on providing an opportunity for young people to gain new agricultural skills, education and experience: www.hayinc.com.au).
As part of the program I participated in the Jackaroo program, which among other things furthered my fencing and stock handling skills. 

In 2017 I attended Marcus Oldham where I studied farm management. I soon discovered that I didn’t like sitting at a desk and saw the ad for the Avington Jackaroo Position and applied. I was interested in merinos and knew I wanted to work on a farm.

What is life like at Avington?

Pretty cool, friendly, accepting of girls and they look after us really well.

What is your work day like at Avington?

Working together with Sophie on our daily jobs.

What are your career aspirations?

I would like to own my own sheep and breed 1st cross ewes (Merino x Border Leicester). There’s a high demand for them at the moment.


Sophie Buntine

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Tell us about your background

My father was an Australian equestrian who came from a sheep farm in central victoria. He moved to the UK to pursue his equestrian career and met my mother. We lived on a farm in Nottingham with cattle and horses. Three years ago I travelled to Australia to study a Bachelor of Science at Melbourne University, majoring in Agricultural Science. 

When did you decide you wanted to be a Jackaroo?

After completing my degree, I was looking for the next step in the agricultural industry and to get contacts. I decided to get a foot in the door and learn more about Australian farming. I also wanted to get out of the city and back on a farm again.

What is life like at Avington?

Always busy, good fun and something different. I’m always learning as this is my first time working with sheep.

What is your work day like at Avington?

We start at 7:30 and finish at 4:30-6, depending on how long we have worked the day before. We look after the show rams in the morning and afternoon, they need lots of love and scratches! We also handle fencing and other odd jobs.

What are your career aspirations?

I would to work in agriculture on sustainability, pasture management and with sheep. Avington is a great farm for me to experience all of this.

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.’

 

Pasture Improvement

Extensive soil testing has been carried out this year at Avington to determine how we can improve our pastures in-line with our sustainable farming practises. The tests have shown that our granitic soils have a naturally low pH. To address this we will spread 1800T of lime and over 80T of fertiliser across all of our properties.

Loading of fertilizer onto the spreader truck

Loading of fertilizer onto the spreader truck

The stock pile of lime

The stock pile of lime

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.