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Sheep Notes
Spring 2020

Welcome to spring. Despite these uncertain times, most of the state is well set up for a good spring with full or nearly full soil moisture to depth and forecasts to support this. If you haven’t done so, check out the new soil moisture website to see how this progresses across a wide range of monitoring sites. We have included articles to keep you up-to-date on requirements and issues relating to traceability and pain relief for mulesing. Plus you will notice we have included some ‘guest’ authors including David Rendell, Pat Kluver and Cecilia Fitzgerald who provide both their expertise and their own style of writing.  There are a range of resources included here that we hope you will access and use when you would like to.

Jane Court and Rachael Holmes

Best-practice first summer drenching strategies

In this article, Dr David Rendell outlines how should sheep producers progress from the somewhat blunt ‘No Christmas dinner until all mobs are drenched’ to a mob-by-mob first summer drenching strategy. The costs and strategies for monitoring and/or drenching mobs as required are discussed, in line with managing drench resistance and your time.  A guide to collecting good samples for testing is included. Read here.

WormBoss Drench Decision Guide
Paraboss screenshot

Worm infection costs the Australian sheep industry an estimated $436 million per year, most of which comes from lost production.
WormBoss is a website that deals with all facets of worm control in sheep and goats in Australia. It provides a variety of generic background information on worms, worm testing, drenches and service providers.  Read more.

Thinking of conserving fodder this spring?
tractor making hay

If you would like to learn more about fodder conservation, two webinars are available to listen to:

Fodder conservation; Michele Jolliffe, Dairy Extension Officer, and Claire Waterman, Farm Business Economist

  • How do I determine how much of my farm to cut?
  • When to cut?
  • Making quality silage and hay

The costs involved in conserving fodder.

  • Spring pastures; Fiona Baker, Beef Extension Officer

How much nutrients will I lose conserving fodder?

  • Tillering – why is it crucial?
  • Grazing management for spring
  • Spring trigger points for decisions on autumn pasture renovation.

To access the recordings, contact Tess McDougall:

Pain relief

Pat Kluver, Livestock Project Specialist, Victorian Farmers Federation, outlines the pain relief options for sheep farmers, including costs; how they work and relevant management practices for the different options. From 1 July 2020, you must use a pain relief product registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for pain relief in sheep when mulesing. The APVMA website lists numerous products registered for pain relief in sheep, but in practice, your choice is down to two different types of pain relief products. Read about your options.

lambs playing
Interested in farming podcasts?

Two new channels now host farming related podcasts.

1.Mallee Sustainable Farming is hosting a series of podcasts on topics including feed testing, grazing crops, weaning, soil testing, succession planning and more visit here.

2.‘Ag Vic Talk’ is a new program of 10 podcasts which cover contemporary problems and solutions for bushfire recovery, drought and dry seasons, weather and climate as well as some stories from inspiring young farmers. Subscribe to 'AgVic Talk' by visiting here 

Farmer health matters: #farmerhealthmatters

The National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) has been engaging with farming communities to make health, wellbeing and safety their number one priority for more than a decade. Founding Director Susan Brumby says, ‘Through our work, we have learnt that farming families and their communities face poor health outcomes and have a higher rate of injuries, illnesses and fatalities". Read more.

More lambs from short-term nutritional flush on green feed

Producer on-farm demonstrations have found that flushing (providing nutritional supplementation before joining) with green feed for one week before and one week after joining delivers impressive reproductive benefits, including more lambs and, to a lesser extent, more ewes pregnant. Lupin supplements for short periods can also have a similar effect. Read more about how much they need and critical timing.

ewes on short green feed
Improving high-country native pastures

Improving native pastures involves a balance of management and inputs for plant persistence and animal production. To develop some guidelines for native pastures in Victoria, a trial was established in the spring of 2016 in hill country in the Tambo Valley, East Gippsland. The aim was to demonstrate how grazing management and soil fertility could be used to improve pasture production and feed quality of native pastures, while minimising soil erosion. Read about what they found and recommendations for managing naive grass pastures.

Reedy Flat site
Making cent$ of carbon and emissions
Making cents of carbon screenshot

An updated edition of Agriculture Victoria’s Making cent$ of carbon and emissions booklet has been produced and is now available online or as a hard copy. The 19-page publication provides a brief explanation of the carbon and emissions action areas: energy, nitrogen, soils, livestock, trees and supply chain. It provides an overview of practical management options to lower farm emissions, which may also help to reduce operational costs and improve profits. The booklet focuses on practical actions that farm businesses can take now to improve their emissions performance. The booklet can be viewed and downloaded from the Agriculture Victoria website:

Printed copies of the booklet can be ordered by contacting Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or emailing

Where to go when things get tough

If we asked a group of primary producers what keeps them up at night, what would they say? The obvious answer is weather – too wet, too dry, too hot, not hot enough. They might also talk about family and hoping the kids are happy, that their footy team is doing well and how much the Country Fire Authority (CFA) needs to raise for a new tanker. Read this brief story about how the Rural Financial Counselling Service helped one farmer with making some tough decisions.

Feeding Livestock website – what’s new?

We have been updating our Feeding Livestock website to include more relevant nutritional information and resources that can be useful in any year or season. The website hosts our Drought Feeding and Management of Beef Cattle and Sheep books, as well as many other resources, tools and links. The latest update we have added is a page of pasture resources relating to stock requirements and feed budgeting. Links to the hay and grain reports have also been added. See whats new and access the site.

Feeding Livestock website screen shot
Webinar series provides tips and tools to improve your digital literacy
Digital icon

Workplaces have been moving towards online service delivery and communication for many years. A notable example is the Agriculture Victoria Seasonal Risk team, which has been delivering climate seminars online for 10 years. However, for those of us who are new to working in the digital or virtual space, the very idea of it can be daunting, and the speed with which we need to adapt can feel overwhelming. Agriculture Victoria, in conjunction with ExtensionAus, is providing a unique opportunity for you to improve your digital literacy skills and knowledge, learn more about the options to measure and improve your on-farm connectivity, and ensure that it works as efficiently as possible for you and your farm business. A series of four webinars on digital connectivity, online meeting platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT) and professional social networking have been produced in conjunction with ExtensionAus.  The webinar recordings are available by visiting

Victorian sheep traceability requirements

Victoria in 2017, the livestock industry has demonstrated a sound level of compliance with the new requirements. The main compliance issues that have been identified are:

  • untagged or incorrectly tagged animals leaving properties
  • National Vendor Declarations not being correctly completed
  • animals privately purchased not being transferred on the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database by the purchaser.

Read here to find out your requirements and where to get help if you need it.

Sheep with EID
More soil moisture information at your fingertips

The new and improved Agriculture Victoria soil moisture monitoring website shows data from the 36 Agriculture Victoria soil moisture probe sites (17 crop and 19 pasture) across various locations and agricultural industries. Soil moisture and temperature to depth are measured hourly at each site, so data is available from the last time they were uploaded from the paddock. The site also provides some information on soil type/texture and pasture or crop species. The new Soil Moisture Monitoring program portal is on

Screenshot of soil moisture probe site data

Agriculture Victoria Sheep Industry contacts

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