A Wellington farm manager and stud principal will head overseas next year as part of a Nuffield scholarship.
Jack Courts, who is the farm manager at Mumblebone Merinos while also running Glenalbyn Santa Gertrudis stud, will investigate how to maximise profit through maternal efficiency.
Mr Courts has also been sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia to undertake the project, which will involve touring international cattle and sheep operations and meeting industry bodies.
"Maternal efficiency can be measured by the kilograms of progeny weaned to the kilogram of ewe or cow joined," he said.
"The ratio there is how you can measure your maternal efficiency.
"What I'm hoping to look into is different management systems, different genetic gain, different production systems, that maximise this."
In his experience, maternal efficiency involved maximising both genetic gain as well as on-farm management practices, he said.
"The biggest area that we can improve will be lamb or calf survival," he said.
"The industry's got a lot of room to improve there.
"Ninety per cent is the goal, MLA is backing the Towards 90 program to educate people on how we can improve our lamb or calf survival.
"I see that as a key thing, just to convert the fetus, or a ewe that's conceived, into a lamb that's weaned.
"With genetic gain we're going to have early twinning, higher early growth rates, and all that stuff will influence lamb survival and then the kilograms of lamb or calf weaned."
His tour will include nine days in Brazil with the other international scholars and then five weeks as part of the global focus program with a group of about 10 others.
He will also undertake an individual travel component.
"I just looked at what is relative to me - being a farm manager in the Merino industry, New Zealand correlates really highly there," he said.
"I really want to go to New Zealand and have a really good look at their beef and lamb industry."
Mr Courts said he also identified Spain, Wales and the United Kingdom, along with South America and southern part of the US as other areas he would tour given the influence of sheep and beef.
If you always do what you've always done, you always get what you've always got.- Jack Courts, 2024 Nuffield Scholar
"I'm really lucky that I've been sponsored by MLA that I've got a foot in the door to go to their offices around the world to have a look at what we're doing," he said.
"That just opens up avenues into local industry bodies."
Going forward, he planned to remain working in the field rather than focusing on research.
"I really enjoy what I'm doing now managing here," he said.
"Basically we've got the freedom to make the decisions we want to do.
"Ideally one day it would all be under by own banner but we've got to get their first."
He said his own experiences in livestock management had highlighted the importance of finding and adopting research to get the best results.
"I definitely haven't reinvented the wheel there with anything anybody has done, it's probably just making the critical decisions at key times and being disciplined with that," he said.
"Ewe condition coming into lambing, ewe mob size compared to paddock availability to lamb down in, just remain disciplined and doing the 1pc that will add up.
"I'm not going to coin any of that as my idea - that's just research out there that shows what works. If you always do what you've always done, you always get what you've always got."
Mr Courts thanked Nuffield and MLA for the opportunity.
"This Nuffield allows me to get away and actually solely focus on what I can do as a manager, both in my employment and in my own business, what I can implement and what I can do at a practical level to improve efficiencies," he said.
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