Practical approaches to improve the value of the Falkland Islands' sheep and wool industry

Miller, Sean Michael (2002). Practical approaches to improve the value of the Falkland Islands' sheep and wool industry PhD Thesis, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland.

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Author Miller, Sean Michael
Thesis Title Practical approaches to improve the value of the Falkland Islands' sheep and wool industry
School, Centre or Institute School of Veterinary Science
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2002
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor McMeniman, N. P.
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subjects L
279999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
630102 Sheep-wool
Abstract/Summary Studies were conducted to determine basic aspects of intake and digestion of native pastures by young sheep in the Falkland Islands, and to evaluate practical methods to improve the productivity of these animals. The studies were conducted in support of Industry and Government initiatives to reinvigorate Falklands’ agriculture. The current industry is based on broad diameter wools harvested from sheep grazing poor quality native pastures, and sheep suffer low growth rates, poor productivity and high mortality, and farmers rely on small flocks to produce a single commodity for their total income. The dramatic collapse of wool markets in the 1980’s crippled the Falklands’ wool industry and farmers have relied heavily on subsidies for more than 12 years. The studies in this thesis were initiated to support the efforts to reinvigorate Falklands’ agriculture, and they examined basic aspects of the nutrition provided to sheep by native pastures and evaluated practical methods to improve the survival of sheep, their subsequent rate of growth and productive value to the economy. Five studies examined specific hypotheses posed at the outset of the research programme and they were broadly supported by the data presented in the thesis: · A wether trial was used to benchmark the productivity of wool sheep in the Islands, and the trial demonstrated that substantial genetic variation exists within the national flock that may be exploited in the future to improve the productivity of the wool industry, · Microhistological techniques were used in conjunction with n-alkane marker technology to investigate the diets consumed by sheep grazing native pastures. The diet studies concluded that the low quality of native pasture in the Falklands during autumn, winter and spring restricts growth and productivity of young sheep, · Studies with weaner sheep treated with controlled release anthelmintics established that infection with gastrointestinal nematodes exacerbates poor nutrition of young sheep consuming native pastures, · A short-term metabolism study demonstrated that native pasture hay fortified with molasses and urea, or winter forage crops may be used as supplements to enhance sheep productivity, and · Forage crops were grown and evaluated under Falklands’ conditions, and when lambs were fed the resulting highly productive and nutritious forages, the study demonstrated that lamb growth can be increased significantly, and lamb carcasses offer local farmers the potential to diversify farm income by using existing Falklands’-bred lambs to develop an export meat industry The data presented in this thesis demonstrate that the potential to improve the productive and financial position of Falklands’ farmers is substantial. If both the local Industry and Government maintain their joint commitment to industry-restructure, pastoral development and enterprise diversification, the Falklands’ agricultural economy stands to benefit considerably by adopting low risk solutions to address widespread problems.
Keyword native pasture
wool quality
sheep diets
gastrointestinal parasitism
urea-molasses treatment
carcass quality

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 17:31:42 EST