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May 16, 2019

Flystrike research, animal welfare and profitability constraints to wool production will be all under the spotlight when growers from across the nation gather for the MerinoLink conference on June 19.

To be held at the Armidale Bowling Club from 8.30am to 5:00pm, the conference will be followed by a MerinoLink-Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) Project field day on June 20 at CSIRO, Armidale, showcasing on-farm data collection for improving productivity.

Conference co-ordinator Carmen Thackeray said all members of the wool and sheep meats supply chain were welcome, with the conference aimed at providing the latest in industry information and research.

Ms Thackeray said commercial producers would hear how MerinoLink research outcomes could be incorporated into their enterprise to lift profitability.

A highlight will be the official producer launch of the humane lamb castration technology, Numnuts, by founder and inventor Robin Smith.

Ms Thackeray said another feature would be the Hour of Power, a fast-paced informative session presented by nine young researchers and innovators, aged 18 to 30 years, from across Australia.

Their topics cover the use of sensors on lambing ewes; virtual fencing; sheep grazing preference for tall fescue cultivars; supplementation of twin bearing ewes and on-line wool sales.

The line-up includes Tom Rookyard of AuctionsPlus Wool, and 2018 Peter Westblade Scholarship recipient, Anna Cotton.

Conference speaker and Adjunct Professor at the University of New England, Dr Phil Homes, will outline the profitability constraints to wool production, while University of Sydney Associate Professor Simon de Graaf will speak on artificial breeding technology.

University of Adelaide Associate Professor Forbes Brien will cover achieving more lambs, and Michell Wool Chief Executive Officer Steven Read will outline animal welfare related to wool production systems.

Delegates will hear an update on flystrike research and development from Australian Wool Innovation Program Manager Bridget Peachey.

AWI Genetics and Animal Welfare Advocacy Program Manager Geoff Lindon will provide an Update of the MLP Project, and University of New England research fellow Tom Granleese will give an update on MerinoLink-UNE’s collaborative DNA Stimulation Project.

Neil Finlay, NAB, will provide key insights into financing young people into agribusiness and MLA General Manager – Research, Development and Innovation, Sean Starling will address synthetic meat.

There will be practical on-farm animal and pasture assessment tools, effective data collection for improving productivity and an overview of the sire evaluation trial at the MerinoLink-Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) Project field day on June 20.

The 2017 and 2018-drop ewe progeny from the MLP sire evaluation project will be on display in their sire groups.

The 30 groups of sheep will be penned with data on fat and eye muscle, visual scores, and body weights, and the older ewes will carry two-year-old classing data.

Seminars and trade displays will be presented on Numnuts, WoolQ, MaiaGrazing, AskBill, and virtual fencing.

New England MLP project manager Jen Smith said CSIRO speakers would outline research on young sheep dentition and lamb survival fitness traits. “Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association’s Ben Swain will give a pen walk and overview of why individual sires were chosen for the MLP,’’ she said.

Fleece to Fashion will hit the catwalk at the conference dinner at the Armidale Bowling Club on June 19, along with guest speaker Robert Ryan, Schute Bell Badgery Lumby Managing Director, and an auction will be held in support of the New England region’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

To register for the MerinoLink conference and field day go to the website or email

Destination NSW are a strategic sponsor of this event.conference pic1The Hour of Power speakers at last year’s MerinoLink conference. This year nine young innovators will present their research at Armidale on June 19.

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