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Head Shepherd

Author: Mark Ferguson

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Mark Ferguson from neXtgen Agri brings you the latest in livestock, genetics, innovation and technology. We focus on sheep and beef farming in Australia and New Zealand and the people doing great things in those industries.
54 Episodes
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This week we change tracks a little and catch up with Dr Richard Shephard of Herd Health, a specialist animal health company which Richard founded in 1998 to address multi-disciplinary problems of animal and human health and animal production.Richards started as a clinical dairy veterinarian, who then went on to do post-grad training in epidemiology, whilst also working as a  farm management consultant. This career path made him step back and view the dairy farm very, very differently. This is one of those "not to be missed" episodes of Head Shepherd where the lifetime of insights provided by Richard are truly invaluable. Mark and Richard discuss industry indices, and how they're all well and good for regional populations, but how knowing your farm and your flock are far more essential to boost profit. They also cover the outlook in the future for breeding "low input" animals, and what that could mean for the animal as a whole. If you'd like to listen to Bill Malcoms podcast you can find it here:Download Here.Check out The Hubthehub.nextgenagri.comOur community where our members have the opportunity to keep up to date with everything we are working on. Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencewww.allflex.global/nz/
Welcome back to Season 5 of the Head Shepherd podcast. We have a fantastic season lined up for you, and we're starting with a bang!Sarah Nolet is an internationally recognised food systems innovation expert, the CEO and Founder of AgThentic, a global food and agriculture strategy firm, and co-founder of Tenacious Ventures, Australia’s first dedicated agrifood tech VC firm AND podcast host of "Ag Tech So What?".But, before all that, Sarah grew up in California, quite literally in the centre of the tech world. After studying computer science at University, Sarah then ended up in the defence industry. She enjoyed the tech, but felt like her heart wasn't into it. Roll forward a year and her experiences in Agriculture in South America, Sarah was inspired to go down the rabbit hole of Ag Tech. Ten years later, Sarah now lives in Australia and is fully immersed in a whole different world.  Sarah challenges the usual way of finding investments. In contrast to starting at the research end, focusing on building the device and hoping people purchase and invest, she flips that on its head by focusing on the team strategy, what the product will do, and who's going to pay for it at the end of it all.Sarah then discusses the exciting upcoming innovations in the Australasian Agtech space. Learn more about the future of the tech space, the work Sarah and her companies are doing, and how you can help!Find out more below.https://tenacious.ventures/https://www.agtechsowhat.com/https://agthentic.com/Check out The Hubthehub.nextgenagri.comOur community where our members have the opportunity to keep up to date with everything we are working on.  Thank you yet again to Allflex and now MSD for sponsoring the fifth season of Head Shepherd. Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencewww.allflex.global/nz/
Welcome back to the 50th episode of Head Shepherd! This week we hosted a live Q&A where Mark answered your questions. This is a recording of that live stream.Mark answers questions about the polled gene and the variations that exist there, about breeding for lamb growth without ending up with excess adult weight and more. Thank you to everyone who has listened so far, we have thoroughly enjoyed producing the past 50 episodes for you and can't wait to bring you the next 50. We will be taking a week off, and will be back on the 27th of September. Check out The Hub belowthehub.nextgenagri.comAllflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencewww.allflex.global/nz/
This week Mark chats with Dr Leo Cummins of Byaduk North, Aus.With the world favouring environmental efficiency, why is it that we don't breed cattle to have twins? Mark and Leo go through the ins and outs of Beef Twinners, a composite from Nebraska that Leo has been working with for the past 17 years.During Leos research career, he investigated high fecundity beef and sheep livestock systems including Booroola sheep. During this time he became aware of a twinning herd in Nebraska ran by the Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), which had a 50% twinning rate in cows. The first imported embryos were implanted into cows in 2004, and the progeny are now producing twin calves at a rate of about 50 per cent. Beef twinners are a composite line of cattle developed at the U.S. MARC. This project started in 1981 by selecting cattle based on their ability to produce twins. This was based on selection on both twinning history and recorded ovulation rates over several cycles in heifers. Bulls were selected which had high predicted breeding values for twinning, based on their daughters having twins and high ovulation rates. Have a listen to hear how these cattle are being run in Australia and the improvements Leo is making to the herd. He has some impressive figures of weaning weights and sale prices that makes you wonder why we aim for only one calf, considering the environmental outlook of the world currently. If you would like to know more, visit their website herehttps://www.twinnercattle.comCheck out The Hub belowthehub.nextgenagri.comAllflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencewww.allflex.global/nz/
Black Box Co is the brain child of Shannon Speight and Emma Black who both have backgrounds in the beef industry and have both won the Zanda McDonald award. After seeing how little data was utilised at all levels in the industry, Shannon was inspired to find a way to capture and standardise the data that potentially existed all along the value chain. She met Emmathrough the Zanda McDonald award, Emma shared her passion and frustrations around data and convinced her to join her on the Black Box Co journey. Roll forward a few years, and Black Box Co has just registered their millionth animal on the database and have a 10 people team- they also have their sights on the sheep industry!Mark, Emma and Shannon discuss what Black Box Co is, and the potential in the industry. With such scale in Northern Australia, incremental differences really make a difference to the dollar at the other end. It is truly inspiring to hear the enthusiasm both women have for genetics and data. An enthusiasm so great, they created a solution to an industry-wide problem. If you would like to learn more,  visit their website here. https://www.blackboxco.com.auFind more information on the Zanda McDonald Award herehttps://www.zandamcdonaldaward.comCheck out The Hub belowthehub.nextgenagri.comAllflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencewww.allflex.global/nz/
Mark chats with Richard Scholefield of Whangara Farms, Gisborne NZ on this weeks Head Shepherd podcast. Whangara Farms comprises of 7 farms, making up 9,500 Ha overall. Across the seven farms, there are 20 staff to manage the 37,000 breeding ewes (all of which are EID tagged), 10,000 replacement hoggets and 3,500 breeding cows. They regularly scan over 200% and mark over 50,000 lambs a year, an event the whole team is bought together for.This opportunity of scale allows them to make the right choices when it comes to land allocation, an area, amongst others, Richard says has led to an increase of EFS from $70 /ha to $500 ha in his time at Whangara. Richard is genetics crazy, which makes for a great conversation between him and Mark! The importance of your genetic decisions cannot be ignored, and is highlighted well in this conversation. We are hosting another Q&A podcast this season, and this time we're going to record it live! If you have any questions for Mark, please email them to him or find us on social or at The Hub and we'll endeavour to answer them all for you.Check out The Hub belowthehub.nextgenagri.comAllflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencewww.allflex.global/nz/
This week Mark catches up with long-time friend, Dawson Bradford. Dawson started off in pigs, and bought some sheep to 'keep himself entertained' whilst he waited around to feed twice a day. What started off as a hobby, led to Dawson becoming one of Australia's most successful performance breeders. The Hillcroft Farms name can be found in many high performance Poll Dorset and White Suffolk pedigrees.Mark and Dawson discuss a little about breeding pigs, and then onto how Dawson got his sheep to where he wanted them to be and where he hopes they'll be sometime soon with the addition of the GDF9 gene. A truly great episode listening to two of the best in the industry discussing their passion for breeding and genetics. If you would like to hear more from Dawson, we have another interview with him which can be found here .Check out The Hub belowthehub.nextgenagri.comAllflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencewww.allflex.global/nz/
Wallaloo Park is a family-owned and managed business located south of Marnoo in the Wimmera district of Victoria. The business operates a 3500ha mixed enterprise farming system, including cropping and livestock enterprises.Wallaloo Park merino stud was founded in 1978, currently running 2500 ewes.  Utilizing the latest technology to enhance genetic gain, through both ASBV’s and stringent visual classing, Wallaloo Park is at the forefront of the merino and poll merino industry. A renowned leader of innovation, depth and service to the industry. Impacting both stud and commercial growers across Australia and abroad.More information about Wallaloo Park can be found here:www.wallaloopark.comCheck out The Hub belowthehub.nextgenagri.comAllflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencewww.allflex.global/nz/
We are delighted to have had the chance to catch up with Laura Ryan. Laura is the founder and global Chair of Meat Business Women which launched in 2015.With a first-class Honours in Marketing and a Masters in Management, Laura joined the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in 2007. Successfully launching premium beef & lamb brands within a large butchery business in the North East of England. Working her way through the ranks she was appointed as Sector Strategy Director for Beef & Lamb Board in 2015. She led the strategic review and development for the Beef & Lamb sector in England by identifying key challenges and opportunities which deliver long-term growth.More recently, Laura successfully launched Lavenpark, her own consultancy business which is working with levy boards, government and commercial companies to achieve greater success through improved industry insight, connectivity, business development, marketing, and communications.Meat Business Women has recently been recognised by the United Nations with Laura presenting on the contribution Meat Business Women makes to the global Sustainable Development Goals. More about Meat Business Women: meatbusinesswomen.org/Check out The Hub belowthehub.nextgenagri.comAllflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencewww.allflex.global/nz/
Richard Loe, a former All Blacks player with a passion for livestock joined us this week on the Head Shepherd Podcast. Loe's family farm, Glenloe is based near Oxford in Canterbury in the centre of the South Island of New Zealand.  Richard is farming Dohne Merino Sheep and Santa Gertrudis Cattle. Richard is a co-host of Magic Radio's Rural Exchange program which airs every Saturday and Sunday morning from 6 til 8am.  Listen in to hear the latest on all things rural New Zealand.Rural Exchangehttps://www.rova.nz/home/podcasts/magics-rural-exchange.htmlRuralhttps://www.magic.co.nz/home/shows/talk/newshub-rural.htmlCheck out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.comAllflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/
Sophie and Lucy, who grew up at Middlehurst Station for the past 20 years, have had the absolute privilege of bringing Middlehurst Delivered to life. Bringing a premium product that you can enjoy at home, knowing exactly where it came from. Middlehurst Delivered aims to have consistency with their meat and to always give that "great experience". It doesn't stop there, Middlehurst is on a mission to ensure that they are bringing you an innovative product and packaging that is sustainable. There is such a great range of cuts on each animal and Middlehurst Delivered believes a little education and inspiration around what can be achieved with them will help change the opinions of what some people might consider 'lesser cuts'.Middlehurst Accommodation https://www.middlehurst.co.nzOrder or check out more about Middlehurst Deliveredhttps://middlehurstdelivered.co.nz/Check out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.comA big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.
The Luhrs family farm near Cavendish in Western Victoria.  Ricky and his wife Marni farm with Russell, Ricky's dad.  They have two speeds, flat out and asleep.  They are always thinking about extracting the next few percent out of the business through strategic management, pasture performance and genetics.   If what they need doesn't exist on the market they build it.  I'm sure you'll enjoy the banter, openness and energy of this episode.Check out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.comA big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.
This week on the Head Shepherd podcast Mark speaks with Brendon Savage from Western Australia. Brendon has a great insight on soils and pasture after spending the past few years improving his pastures via various, slightly different methods with the goal of producing the same, with less. Brendon also upped his sheep numbers to take his business to 50:50 crop to sheep which isn't common in the area in which Brendon lives. This is to take the typical highs and lows out of his farming system. Brendon focuses on higher fertility so that he can have less sheep in the Autumn, and more during Spring. This week is really a podcast to get you thinking about how to make the most of your business, whilst also looking to the future for the changes that may be coming to the Agricultural industry.Check out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.comA big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.
Welcome back to the Head Shepherd podcast. This week we have Todd Burger from the Western Districts of Victoria. Todd farms his merino sheep a little differently. After being frustrated with the lack of maternal behavior in his ewes, he decided to do something different. Todd intensively manages around 700 of his 7,000 ewes around lambing time. This means shedding up at night, temporary shelters and more.Mark and Todd cover the new genetics and AI that has been implemented recently, and the changes that has brought to Todds farming business.  We hope this podcast gets you thinking! We have upcoming Farm Fit Ewes workshops coming up in Victoria. The workshops cover breeding and feeding of ewes, and optimizing your production system.It is free to member's and $250 for non-members. Below are the dates and locations.Farm Fit Ewes at Burnbrae Poll Merino Stud 28th June 2021 at 1pmFarm Fit Ewes at Hannaton Poll Merinos & White Suffolks 29th June 2021 at 1pmFarm Fit Ewes at Firgrove Poll Merino Stud 30th June 2021 at 1pmCheck out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.comA big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.
Welcome back to Season 4 of the Head Shepherd podcast! We'd like to say thank you for all of your support in the past and we cannot wait to share this season's guests with you. This week, we start things off with a bang. Mark chats with Bill Malcolm who has been a professor at Melbourne University since 1980. Mark actually grew up close to Bill in the Mallee, and Bill also taught Mark economics at university. Bill is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to agricultural, farm and resource economics and agribusiness.We discuss optimum vs maximum and how really, it all comes down to productivity, and a big key part of that is appropriate and well funded R&D, something Bill believes has been lacking in Agriculture in the past 30 years.Check out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.comA big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.
For our final episode of Season 3, we are excited to discuss Genesmith,  a startup within neXtgen Agri.Mark catches up with Ian Harris, Electronics and Data Science Manager at neXtgen Agri who, along side Ali Alqassab and Jack Zarifeh, are developing facial recognition cameras to apply the power of machine learning to the livestock industry.  We are starting with matching lambs and ewes, in the paddock at a commercial scale.  We believe this will unlock an enormous opportunity in the sheep industry.This is a fascinating insight into the future of the industry and where tech might take us. If you'd like to know more about Genesmith, you can visit the website herehttps://www.genesmith.ai/ Check out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.comA big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.
This week on the Head Shepherd podcast, we decided to offer the mic over to you to answer your questions. We put a call out on various social media platforms and we had a great response. We had lots of questions ranging from wool vs shedding sheep, to the use of AI and Face Recognition in farming.It is always great to hear Marks opinion on these things and as ever, it's a podcast to get you thinking. Find us on social at Twitter:  @neXtgenAgriFacebook: @nextgenagriCheck out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.comA big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.
Mark first came across Moojepin Merinos, a Merino stud near Badgebup in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia, fifteen years ago whilst looking for some high growth merinos. This week, Mark discusses what's going on at Moojepin with Hamish Thompson, stud co-principal and third generation on the farm.After Hamish's father David Thompson, was told joining merino ewe lambs was impossible, he set his mind to the task. Ten years later, Moojepin are mating ewe lambs at 7 months, at the same time as their ewes, to make the most of their incredibly short growing season. The country that the Thompsons farm in Western Australia is tough going with a constant battle with salinity. Hamish discusses how they tackle this and where they see the farm and stud going in the future.  If you would like to learn more about either Moojepin Foods or the stud, you can find them at the links belowwww.moojepin.comwww.moojepinfoods.comTwitter: MoojepinMerinosFacebook: MoojepinMerinosA big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.Check out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.com 
Julia Jones shares her optimistic outlook on the future of the Agriculture industry this week. Julia grew up on the West Coast of the South Island of NZ, riding a horse to school. Now, Julia is head of Analytics at NZX, New Zealand's Exchange. With an infectious, positive view on life, Julia covers what she sees happening in the future of our industry, and the world. A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.Check out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.com
This week, Mark catches up with Chad Taylor of Mumblebone Merinos, of Wellington, NSW, Australia.Both Chad and Mark are fans of putting maternal traits with carcass traits on a wool producing animal. They discuss the benefits of putting fat and muscle in a Merino and how it has improved both Mumblebone's production, and also their clients.They also cover succession and where Mark and Chad think the industry will be in 10 years time, what with all of the innovation happening in the industry right now.A big thank you to our sponsors, Allflex Livestock Intelligencehttps://www.allflex.global/nz/Allflex Livestock Intelligence is the leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of animal monitoring, identification, and traceability solutions. Their data-driven solutions are used by farmers to manage animals. By putting intelligent, actionable information into farmers’ hands, their solutions empower them to act in a timely manner for optimal outcomes.Check out The Hub belowhttps://thehub.nextgenagri.com
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