A PACKED auditorium of over 70 people indicated the high level of interest Central and North West Leading Sheep mustered for their forum on profit drivers in sheep flocks and beef herds in Longreach last Friday, along with dinner and a fashion parade.
Conventional thinking in many areas of rural enterprises was challenged by consultant Phil Holmes but the audience universally responded with enthusiasm, according to regional coordinator Joy Hardie.
"We wanted a speaker who could deliver what the profit drivers from around Australia are, and how sheep and beef compare," she said.
"For anyone considering getting out of sheep for reasons other than wild dogs, or anyone who is all beef and still has sheep infrastructure, it may just encourage them to stay in sheep or make a return to running sheep along with their beef enterprise."
Pictured are Walker cousins, James (Camden Park), Nic (Rio) and Daniel (Wakefield) who were taking a keen interest in proceedings at the Leading Sheep dinner. Click on this image to see more photos in our online gallery.
After 40 years of working with producers around Australia and 33 years as a consultant, Mr Holmes told the forum he could confidently say a well run sheep flock would run rings around a beef herd, in any part of Australia.
"Beef is a true commodity," he said.
"You can't differentiate that well. You can chase a premium for some things but about 65 percent of a beast is going to go into making hamburger meat. Generally speaking you are a price taker because your product is perishable, whereas you can stockpile wool."
His advice for beef producers not to sell cattle as weaners but to keep them until they weigh 480kg and run less cows, and for wool producers to aim for a fibre diameter in the 15-17 micron range, were the main topics.
Pam O'Neill, who runs a cattle partnership with Cindy Taylor south of Longreach, described the forum as a game changer.
"Lots of things I mentally challenged and have to go away and think through," she said.
"The impression I got is that to see his ideas through, you should commit to a long time period, 10 years at least, to see the differences."
She believed the formation of a production group would be a sensible outcome, in order for people to support each other through the changes they want to make. Conducted at the Qantas Founders Museum, attendees were treated to a sneak peak at some of the AWI's latest developments in clothing. They included denim wool jeans, a soft shell jacket, a ski jacket and a wetsuit with a woolly lining.
Silverwood Organics operator Maree King demonstrated to dinner guests how she and husband Andrew are using social media to market their organic lamb products.
Ms Hardie said it showed how valuable this form of communicating was.
"It's the way of the future and it's good to see people like Maree and Andrew getting good news stories about what we do out there," she said.