Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 17

Today, the plan was to leave the hotel at 8:00 a.m. although, our plans changed. The bus had technical difficulties-the batteries died. So Brian, with the assistance of a mechanic, got the bus back up and running within an hour. We soon after arrived at Bally Glunin Park: The Blake Wool Farm outside of Hamilton. The Bally Glunin Park has sold wool for over 100 years now, and was awarded the Australian Wool Producer and Farmer in 2010 and 2013. They have over 2,500 Merino lambs and were the first farmers to be Humane Animal Management certified in Australia. To obtain a certification in Humane Animal Management, you have to have a sufficient grazing area for your sheep, continuous availability to an appropriate diet, clean fresh water, and management practices for maintaining the sheep. Soon after being certified, the Bally Glunin Farm further improved the environment for their sheep by planting over 100,000 trees for shelter and shade purposes. Another improvement they made on the Bally Glunin farm was increasing the number of times per year that they shear their sheep. They now shear their sheep 6 times throughout the year which increases the wool production and decreases the fly problems. In result of doing this, they have been within the top 10 percent for wool quality at most sales that they attend. They have also done genetic breeding to select for parasite resistance in their flock.
The two wool judging students from our group had fun this morning looking at the Australian wool.
Some of the sheep out at the research facility that are on computer automated feeders to test feed efficiency.
Michael Blake was describing the different types of tags that he uses in his sheep now and in past years.
Then, we headed into Hamilton for dinner. We ate at the Grand Central Hotel. We had a little extra time after we ate, so the group spent some time looking around Hamilton, getting some ice cream, and shopping. Then we headed out to the DEDJTR.

At the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport, and Resources, we visited several different ongoing research sites that they have. The first one was rain shelters they have set up over canola fields for testing drought resistance. Then we went to a canola plot and learned about the testing they have been doing there. They have been testing canola as a forage base and then see if that impacts it during harvest as well as if it impacts the sheep’s reproductive process. They found that grazing the canola did not decrease the canola yield at harvest, and the sheep’s reproductive process wasn’t effected either. After that, we traveled up to their Lucerne (alfalfa) plots. Lucerne is hard to grow in Australia. Their soil doesn’t drain properly for it. In some areas on gravel covered hills they can get some to grow, but the stand is not as thick as we would be used to seeing it. They are trying to find out when to turn sheep out to graze on it without damaging the crop. After that, we traveled out to their sheep feedlot. There, they are doing a lot of research on methane emissions from sheep based on different feed products as well as feed efficiency. To cap off the night we headed back to the Hotel in Hamilton. On the way back, we got to see a group of wild kangaroos jumping over a fence! It’s pretty cool to see how high they can jump. Tonight we will be resting up for tomorrow morning. We will be loading the bus at 6:30 am to head to Shepparton.
The canola shelters used for drought testing. When they sense rain, they will move down the track to cover the canola.
Maggie was telling us about the research they have found with their canola forage plots for the sheep.
The alfalfa plots they are using to figure out what intervals to put sheep out for grazing without damaging the alfalfa plant.
Wild Kangaroo in the distance

Ashley, Bayley and Cara

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