92 episodes

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.

Head Shepherd Mark Ferguson

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

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.

    Utilising your genetic horsepower with Rob Bell

    Utilising your genetic horsepower with Rob Bell

    This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have Rob Bell, Co founder and CTO at ProAgni and CEO and Principle Consultant at Formula Ag. Which Ferg translates to "knowing a lot about nutrition."

    On this episode we're focusing on weaning, a process not too far away in parts of Australia.

    Rob initially started off as an agronomist in the cotton industry but the droughts soon led to a change of career.  One thing that really struck him was that regardless of what happened, even in the worst draughts, livestock farmers still had an asset at the end. Whereas in the cropping game if you put a seed in the ground, and it didn't' germinate, you had nothing.

    So for the past 16 years Rob has been finding his feet as a consultant in the mixed farming game. Rob says it was really a case of taking the lessons learned within the cotton industry and implementing them into a livestock business.

    Six years ago ProAgni was born after a luck meeting with a ruminant microbiologist in Queensland led to an opportunity of creating something pretty outstanding in terms of antibiotic resistance and removing those challenges from the livestock industry. The past 6 years have been an interesting journey of turning relatively complex science into a commercial reality.

    Mark and Rob discuss the process of weaning and how it shouldn't be an event, but rather a process

    Rob breaks weaning down into three parts.

    1. The physical process of weaning- what processes can we put in place to minimise stress on animals and management?

    2. Pasture management-  we reduce 40% of our energy requirements on the farm at weaning which means we can built a feed reserve.

    3. Economic- what do those three or four extra weeks of growth and grass banking mean at the other end of the business?

    Rob speaks of the benefits getting young lambs well educated to high quality feed prior to weaning to reduce shock post weaning. Understanding the physical AND mental transitions the lambs are going through means it's less stressful for everyone.

    The conversation then leads to discussing the ruminants gut biome and how sheep should be thought of as small fermentation chambers rather than grass digesters. This is important to know because when you wean lambs you are changing them from essentially a monogastric to a ruminant. This process requires good management and an understanding of the process internally in a lamb.

    This podcast is full of more facts and information than you could possibly want on weaning and the biology behind the animals you farm.

    If you'd like to get in touch with Rob, or find out more about ProAgni
    https://proagni.com/products/sheep/prowean/

    robert@formulaag.com.au

    • 33 min
    The factors of success in a large scale farming enterprise with Julie McDonald

    The factors of success in a large scale farming enterprise with Julie McDonald

    Welcome back to season 8 of the Head Shepherd podcast. As ever, we're starting off with a bang and have the fantastic Julie McDonald as our first guest.

    Julie is the CFO of McDonalds Holdings- 3.36 million hectares based in Queensland Australia. Julie credits many things to the success of such a large scale enterprise but one of the defining reasons is the intergenerational knowledge. Having support and information from older generations combed with the younger generations enthusiasm, combined with good communication, has been a real strength for the McDonalds.

    Mark and Julie cover how the business runs and what markets they're targeting and, obviously, what genetics they are using to achieve that goal. 

    Nearly 10 years ago, Julie lost her partner, Zanda. Zanda was a prominent figure in the Agricultural industry in Australia, known for trying new things and helping young people out in the industry.
     
    In 2014, in honour of Zanda McDonald, the Zanda McDonald award was created. The award supports talented and passionate young professionals in the Ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. Applications for the next award are now open.

    To find out more about the Zanda award, check out their website below.
    https://www.zandamcdonaldaward.com/
    https://www.zandamcdonaldaward.com/sponsors

    • 28 min
    BONUS Episode - Genetics of Reproduction

    BONUS Episode - Genetics of Reproduction

    We are currently busily recording season 8 of the podcast.  While we do that we thought we would share with you one of the podcasts from the private podcast we run within The Hub - Head Shepherd Radio.  Ferg has been recording a breeding series and this week we are sharing one of those with you.   We are sharing the reproduction episode from the breeding series this week and Ferg goes through the various traits to look at when buying rams this year.  The Hub is a great virtual home for livestock producers, with great content added frequently and a great place to interact with like-minded livestock farmers.   The Hub membership costs just $56/month or $575 for the year.  If you sign up during Sheepvention you will get 20% off your annual subscription.
    Check it out at thehub.nextgenagri.com or sign up here www.nextgenagri.com

    • 14 min
    Season 7 Q&A with Dr Mark Ferguson

    Season 7 Q&A with Dr Mark Ferguson

    This week is our season finale of Season 7 of the Head Shepherd podcast. As ever, we asked our listeners if they had any questions for Mark Ferguson to answer.

    Mark covers questions such as:

     "Are the commercial farmers still planning to invest similar this up coming ram selling season in Australia, at the same level they have in previous years?  Is there any uncertainty in higher interest rates and FMD on the horizon?"
     
    to
     
    "Can high temperatures during joining affect the quality of the foetus? Is it possible to get more abortions or reabsorption if semen and/or egg quality is affected by extreme heat?"

     Mark also runs through the recent footrot work he is involved with in New Zealand and Australia.

    This weekend Mark and the Australian half of the team will be at  Sheepvention, either on stand 219 or roaming the show-grounds. Towards90 also launches at Sheepvention next weekend. Take a look at towards90.com to find out more.

    Have you looked at our upcoming events? We have our neXtgen Muster next month and we'd love to see you there. 
    Find out more about the neXtgen Muster here

    Check out The Hub
    thehub.nextgenagri.com
    Our community where our members have the opportunity to keep up to date with everything we are working on.

    Thanks to our Sponsors
    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 Intelligence and MSD Animal Health Intelligence
    www.allflex.global/nz/

    • 33 min
    Chasing sheep around the world- with Sophie Barnes

    Chasing sheep around the world- with Sophie Barnes

    This week on the podcast we have Sophie Barnes- sheep fan and producer of the Head Shepherd Podcast.

    Sophie isn't from a farming background but is now one of the biggest fans of sheep you could find. Sophie came across farming when she was 18 and has been hooked ever since. Sophie moved to New Zealand seven years ago for a "two year trip".  Sophie runs through her time here in New Zealand and the jobs she's held- a from gorse spraying shepherd to production manager of the youngstock at a sheep dairy.

    Mark and Sophie discuss her introduction to farming and what she is doing today. Sophie lives on her partners family farm in the King Country, NZ. Farming 1,200 Polled Dorsets, Facial Eczema is an issue Sophie and her partner deal with on their farm. Mark and Sophie discuss FE and the implications of it in arriving in the South Island.

    They briefly cover rearing lambs as this is something Sophie is very passionate about after her time working at the dairy.

    Check out The Hub
    thehub.nextgenagri.com
    Our community where our members have the opportunity to keep up to date with everything we are working on.

    Thanks to our Sponsors
    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 Intelligence and MSD Animal Health Intelligence
    www.allflex.global/nz/

    • 18 min
    Culture is the bailing twine that keeps a business together

    Culture is the bailing twine that keeps a business together

    This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have Sally Murfet of Inspire Ag. 

    Sally is a farmer's daughter born and raised in North West Tasmania on a farm producing beef cattle and seed potatoes.

    Sally established Inspire Ag after seeing a gap in the support system for the agriculture industry. There was no one helping farmers increase business performance through human capital.

    "If you have a disengaged employee, it will cost you 30-200% of their wage to reemploy that staff member. Focusing on employee engagement lessens the need to try and attract people into your business in the first place." 
    A lot of the work Sally does is around succession planning, performance management leadership and team development.

    Mark and Sally go through the components of a good team. Culture, Sally says, is one of the most undervalued factors in running a successful business.

    There's research out there that says that leaders can have up to 70% variance on team engagement- positive or negative. So the way you show up every day, is exactly what you're going to see reflected in your team.

    When you work out these performance issues in monetary terms, it can become a significant amount. Leadership and culture are not "fluffy things" but actual areas for production gain.

    This is a great podcast that every farmer needs to listen to understand the true scale of what leadership and showing up properly for your team can do to the bottom line of your business.

    To find out more about InspireAg, visit their website:
    www.inspire-ag.com.au/

    Check out The Hub
    thehub.nextgenagri.com
    Our community where our members have the opportunity to keep up to date with everything we are working on.

    Thanks to our Sponsors
    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 Intelligence and MSD Animal Health Intelligence
    www.allflex.global/nz/

    • 31 min

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