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Winning Bidders – Elders Beyond Blue Dinner

Image: L to R Darcy, Dale, Lukus and Gary. Ray and Lynette Bald (not shown) made the winning bid on the night.

The Bald Family (from Ettrick in SA) were the lucky winning bidders, on a “ProAgni Animal nutrition formula pack” that included ProTect S pellets and ProGreen powdered lick, at the recent Elders’ Beyond Blue’ fund raising auction.

The family who are croppers, prime lamb and merino wool producers, have worked closely with ProAgni in recent times on their Lamb feedlot operation.The Bald’s use Protect S in their feedlot diet. A mix of Barley and 2.5% Protect S is in their feeders now for their crossbred lambs, to reduce scouring, increase the growth rates, and maintain health on performance pastures containing Cereal, Vetch and Medic.

The ProGreen lick is also fed to the Merino lambs to help reduce the incidence of scours and metabolic disorders and to maintain high levels of growth through the Winter/Spring season.

Elders Murray Bridge fundraiser auction for Beyond Blue

Elders fundraising auction for Beyond Blue

With the recent rains creating favourable conditions, there was a notable spring in the steps of the many farmers & their partners that attended the Elders Murray Bridge Beyond Blue auction dinner. With 150 attendees Elders hosted this event on the evening of Friday 21st June at The Rydges Pit Lane Hotel, The Bend Motorsport Park Tailem Bend.

Elders staff & guests travelled from all over the Mallee & Hills to enjoy an outstanding meal and the odd beverage to loosen the wallets for an excellent auction that was to follow.

MC John “Robbo” Robinson welcomed all and introduced local member for Hammond Adrian Pederick, who gave a short brief on local happenings in the region.

Elders Stud Stock guru Tom Penna kicked off the auction with wit & gusto, tag teaming with Robbo to keep the enthusiastic crowd engaged. Guests competed for the many donated items up for grabs, while Elders staff were out in numbers spotting bids & encouraging the crowd to dig deep.

Robran Cock, Guest Speaker from Beyond Blue spoke of his time battling & conquering the “Black Dog” giving an insight into his struggle, reinforcing that anyone can suffer from this insidious disease at any time.

Elders are extremely grateful for the support of both local & state-wide businesses that donated good & services for this most worthy cause. Elders also wish to thank all that attended for opening their wallets & making the night a huge success. Raising over $16,500.00 for Beyond Blue, exceeding the team’s target of $10,000.00.

Elders Murray Bridge Branch Manager Brett Inkley who set the challenge for the branch and commends his whole team for their efforts, especially Sales Support Officer Stephanie Ziersch & Branch Operations Manager Helen Lloyd for their many hours spent co-ordinating the event which resulted in a fantastic night enjoyed by all.

ProAgni supported the night with donation of a parcel of Animal nutrition formulations including, Protect S Pellet and ProGreen Powdered Lick.

Emerging from the drought with a better business

Merino Stud

With a Merino stud, “Bella Lana”, and commercial sheep flock, the Brien’s had used supplementary feeding to finish lambs, prepare ewes for joining or lambing or to maintain condition on stud rams on an ad hoc basis over the years. However in 2018 Scott and Anna decided they needed to be more rigorous in their approach to grain feeding.

Using Rural Assistance Authority low interest finance and working with their animal nutrition consultant Rob Bell, the Brien’s designed and constructed a drought lot which can hold up to 3,000 ewes. Supporting this was the investment in a Keenan feed mixer.

The drought lot features six 200m by 100m pens in a design which can be easily added on to. It is located near new sheep yards, making induction and sheep handling more efficient.

“By having sheep centrally located in a drought lot, the efficiency gains are huge – we are not driving all over the farm – and by investing in a good mixer we can feed 2,000 ewes with one mix. Feeding is over in a couple of hours,” Scott said.

The other benefit has been improved health and wellbeing outcomes for all classes of sheep. Scott and Rob Bell designed a ration consisting of grain and hay, which is generally produced on farm but last year had to be brought in when supplies ran low; economic sources of protein such as cotton meal and ProAgni’s Protect S, a supplement to boost rumen efficiency.

“We went for the Protect S initially because it was antibiotic and ionophore free. We like to breed simple, easy care animals and, to be prepared for future market demands, I think antibiotic free meat production is important,” Scott said.

The 2017 drop of stud rams were trail fed from weaning at three months through to the stud sale at 14 months. In previous years stud rams have been supplementary fed but Scott has found it challenging with acidosis causing sudden deaths and health issues, such as excessive growth of the hooves (caused by sub-clinical acidosis) leading to feet problems and the need for additional animal husbandry.

“With the new feed mix we didn’t lose one animal and when you are talking about stud rams you only need to lose a few and the cost of the loss starts mounting. Also you are potentially losing the ram which might have held some of the best genetics,” Scott said. Cull ram lambs were sold off the feeders at the Dubbo market last September at less than 12 months of age for $205/head.

Based on this success, pregnant ewes were trail fed with the addition of ProAgni’s ProMark, a loose lick powdered supplement designed for lambing ewes.

“We were blown away. None of the ewes needed help with lambing and the lambs really hit the ground running,” Scott said.

“The real benefit from successful feeding of ewes and stud rams was it reduced the mental strain.

“You also don’t find it a chore when your system is efficient and the animals are thriving on it.”

The Brien’s have developed an ongoing drought management plan based on replenishing grain and hay stocks when prices are lower in preparation for future feeding. When forecasts are for ongoing dry, the oldest commercial ewes will be sold off first (as they were in 2018) and stud ewes and rams will be the first to move on to supplementary feeding, with other classes to move on to feeding when pastures and winter  grazing crops diminish.

“When you run a stud enterprise you can’t afford to sell off your nucleus. Having a good systems with safe, effective feeding regimes provides the insurance for future dry times,” Scott said.


  • loss of rams with acidosis
  • issues with animal health problems in rams, particularly excessive hoof growth causing feet issues and lameness
  • mental stress in monitoring valuable stud stock for signs of acidosis and poor performance
  • intervention needed with lamb delivery

After using ProAgni products:

  • no ram deaths
  • improved weight gains in lambs
  • fewer animal health issues
  • no intervention needed at lambing
  • reduced mental pressure on operators

Information: bellalana.com.au

Beef. The new chicken?

Cattle steers together in a row

By Warren Lee

A few weeks ago I was at the Animal Agriculture Alliance annual meeting in Missouri.

It’s strangely like being in Australia. A lot of passionate people who want to provide safe and wholesome food for the country and the planet and also want to feed themselves and their families along the way.

There was a lot of talk about marketing, and consumer expectations, and how to deal with fringe groups, and I don’t know how it came up but at my table I started playing the Ingham’s Chicken “If you don’t like chicken, there is something very wrong with you” ads.

If you don’t know them, have a look here.   

They were seriously controversial and the animal rights people, and their lawyers went to town on them.

It’s a long time ago now and the only reason I probably only remember it, is because the actor in it is a friend of mine and she got death threats and all that stuff.

Which is terrible.

The red meat industry responded in a way you could hardly imagine. (But remember, chicken was first. They started it.)

Red meat responded with an ad campaign featuring Sam Neill, you might know him from Jurassic Park and Dead Calm, where he was seriously chasing a chicken (unsuccessfully) around a paddock and declaring “Red meat, we were meant to eat it”.

Which got me thinking about chicken, actual meat, and what we might be able to learn.

In 2013, antibiotic free chicken was 4% of the market and that number actually went down in 2014.

But fast forward to 2017, only 4 years later, and 40% of the market was antibiotic free plus another 19% that only uses ionophores.

That is a massive market change in about the time it takes to bring 2 head of cattle from calf to harvest.

Today, all of Perdue’s Chicken is antibiotic free.

And guess what, so is it’s beef.

If you made a timeline of antibiotic use in beef production, it’s 2013 in chicken years.

And here is the thing.

It actually doesn’t matter whether you think antibiotics in beef production are a problem or not or whether you believe antimicrobial resistance is a thing or not or whether you feel beef production is a contributor to the issue or not.

The people who buy your product do and more and more of them will in the future.

In the last 6 months alone, this has happened.

  1. The World Health Organisation has called on all member states of the United Nations to phase out use of antibiotics for growth promotion in animal production
  2. McDonalds has announced Antibiotic reduction targets in it’s global supply chain including 2.6 billion tons of beef, and will report against them from 2022
  3. School districts are beginning to change their beef sourcing policies to remove antibiotics from their supply chains.

Which brings us back to chicken.

While we might not lose sleep over the consumer choices of a single school district, it’s amazingly similar to the way Big Chicken talks about how chicken went overwhelmingly anti biotic free so quickly.

“In 2011, the Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the country, converted to antibiotic-free chicken. In 2013, the academic senate of the University of California San Francisco (which, in addition to the university, operates the city’s largest hospital) voted for its food procurement to go antibiotic-free and urged the rest of the University of California system to follow its lead.

Chick-fil-A’s announcement (in 2013) was the first signal that poultry production was breaking with the rest of the American meat industry; Perdue’s, seven months later, was the second. One after another, major food service companies and poultry integrators fell in line behind them. McDonald’s shook the market by announcing in March 2015 that it was going antibiotic-free for chicken in all of its North American restaurants; Subway followed in October 2015. Costco put its buying power behind chicken raised without routine antibiotics in March 2015, and Walmart in May 2015. Poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride said in April 2015 that it would take 25 percent of its birds antibiotic-free. Foster Farms, the company that had been dogged by foodborne illness outbreaks, committed in June 2015. And Tyson Foods, the largest chicken company in North America, announced in April 2015 that it had already eliminated human use antibiotics in 80 percent of its broiler production (including its hatcheries), with the plan of being antibiotic-free within two years.”

When this happens, it happens fast.

And it is happening.

I don’t farm chickens, but if I did I wouldn’t want to be the guy producing cage eggs and antibiotic fed broilers in 2018.

It’s like being a black and white TV salesman.

Don’t be that guy.

Increase your lamb numbers by preparing your ewes now

Ewe with twins

Increase your lamb numbers by preparing your ewes now

An estimated 15 million lambs die each year within 48 hours of birth[1]. This loss is valued at over $540 million per year[2] to the Australian economy. Understanding the link between ewe nutrition and post lambing losses: predation, mis-mothering, exposure and starvation (PMES). Early life mortality of lambs depends on it. 

Lambing Chart
  1. www.agric.wa.gov.au/managementreproduction/growingweanersheep
  2. Meat and Livestock Australia
  3. Sentinel Flock Project Agriculture Victoria 2013

The percentage of lambs lost to predation is low. Targeted lambs are weakened by an extended lambing period or limited access to colostrum and milk.

The result of a lamb’s inability to maintain contact with the ewe due to a reduction in mobility and energy availability as the result of an extended birthing period and an inability to suckle in the important period post lambing.

Linked to mismothering and the lack of protection being provided by the ewe in cold weather conditions. Deaths do occur in lambs that are mothered in those regions where severe weather events are common. 

Linked to mismothering and the lambs inability to quickly suckle post birth and stay in contact with the ewe in the hours post lambing.

Better Management of PMES
Through gestation, the uterus plays a critical role in the development and protection of the growing foetus. At lambing, the role of the uterus is to deliver the lamb as quickly as possible through the birth canal with a series of muscle contractions. 

When the strength of contractions is compromised, the lamb remains in the birth canal for an extended period, leaving it prone to brain and physical injury and reduced energy reserves. These lambs are more likely to fall victim to PMES.  

Ensuring a ewe is metabolically fit and more able to manage her important muscles at lambing, improves her ability to activate uterine contractions that are key to a rapid birthing process.  Maintaining strong rumen muscle control is also critical to deliver efficient protein and energy production and digestive efficiency.  

Time is Critical
The shorter the period from the initial contraction until the lamb is born, significantly improves survival rates.  

That is driven by a number of mechanisms: 

  • Extended and repeated contraction on the lamb without a swift exit from the birth canal can cause injury to the brain, reducing suckling response, mobility and ability to keep warm. The Dam is more likely to abandon these lambs  

  • Transfer of Colostrum is paramount to survival. If lambs don’t access sufficient colostrum in the first 12 hours post lambing, their survival is compromised 

  • Colostrum is also critical to deliver high levels of energy and protein that lambs need to maintain their mobility and ability to stay with the ewe and prevent PMES 

Top Tip 
Ensuring ewes are in appropriate condition score with adequate quantity and quality of feed available to support high levels of milk production is key to a successful lambing

The metabolic process that determines the ewes muscle management efficiency in the days prior to and through lambing is quite complex. ProAgni ProMark helps improve the condition score of your ewes’ by:

  1. Manipulating the metabolic pathway of the ewe to positively influence her ability to more efficiently manage both her reproductive and digestive muscles through this important phase in our production calendar.  

  2. Maximising the microbial population of the rumen, delivering higher levels of energy and protein production whether ewes are lambing on dry or green feeds.  

  3. Exploiting new technology to drive even intake across a mob, reducing the issue of overconsumption by a few.