Accessing new information isn’t always easy for the latest generation in the sheep and wool industry.
Which is why Young Champion Award winner Lexi Cesnik is so passionate about increasing knowledge transfer, especially among younger participants.
“There is a lot of new technology coming out, and a lot of that work is being done with extension in the private sector, meaning accessing knowledge is not as straight forward for young people in the industry as it has been in the past,” Ms Cesnik said.
The Moses and Sons wool and livestock specialist and MerinoLink director from Tarcutta works daily to help producers “have the best and most sustainable and profitable farm they can”.
“One of the other benefits of networking in these types of forums is it puts me in touch with people that may be able to help me answer questions I get from producers that I don’t know the answers to,” she said.
She isn’t one to back away from the hard questions, speaking up about mulesing during the question and answer panel held in conjunction with the award on Friday night at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo.
“The mulesing debate is always the elephant in the room,” she said.
“There are producers that sit on both sides of the fence, and I think people in agriculture are passionate people by nature, we do what we do because we love it…so when you open up the can of worms in a public forum you have to be conscience of the way you put opinion forward.”
While Ms Cesnik’s family property at Tarcutta, of which she is operations manager, hasn’t mulesed since 2006, she said their operation was able to transition faster than those that may have to make large shifts in their genetics or on farm management calendar.
“We have to remember the mulesing is a preventive cure to an issue we face everyday as sheep producers, so to say producers don’t want mulesed wool that’s ok, but we have to come up with solutions to the problem that mulesing prevents,” she said.
Ms Cesnik has wracked up an impressive list of accolades in the sheep and wool industry already at just 26 years-old.
These include a livestock consultancy internship through the Meat and Livestock Australian Donor Company, the Breeding Leadership course from Australian Wool Innovation, being part of the young professionals team at two International Wool Textile Organisation conferences, and state-wide research projects.
That’s not to mention the fact she has lifted clients on on-farm productivity and profitability by 2 per cent in just two years, and implementing on farm electronic identification and data collection across commercial properties.
There’s plenty left on her to do list however.
“The wool industry at the moment is on such a high, and sheep as well – if you have some sort of sheep on your property at the moment you are not losing,” Ms Cesnik said.
“The research we are doing at Merinolink on the Merino Lifetime Productivity site we host at Temora and the results coming out of that will have a huge impact on the industry. A big part of my job is on farm efficiency and productivity so looking at clients and finding ways to make our clients the best at this - they are not making any more country, so have to make the most of what we have.”
If you are thinking about the young champions award, and any like it, Ms Cesnik said when it comes to young people in the industry, they too often doubt themselves.
“One thing I like about this award is you have to be nominated - sometimes we don’t back ourselves and say we are going to have a go – whether you won or a were a nominee it gave the same opportunity to network with those people,” she said.