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Virbac's Proud Achiever farmers gain insight to overseas livestock practices

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article image Andrew Heinrich, winner of the 2010 Proud Achievers Award for Sheep, says the Australian sheep industry is second to none

The winning couples of the first Virbac Proud Achievers Awards have arrived home from their overseas study tours.  The farmers returned with many new ideas for improving their farming and animal health practices.

The Virbac Proud Achievers Awards were established to recognise and rewards farmers who are improving the health and productivity of their livestock through better animal health practices.

The Proud Achievers program rewarded winners of the beef, sheep and dairy primary producer categories with study tours to a destination of their choice worth $12,000, with runners up each receiving Virbac animal health products, valued at $1,000.

The winning farmers were:

Beef category - Colin and Sue Anderson of Windmalee Pastoral Co in NSW.

The beef farmers took a 16-day study tour of New Zealand including visits to farms, universities and field days, with the aim to learn more about pasture management in a high rainfall area with cool winters, in order to achieve maximum productivity in finishing off beef cattle.

Also of interest were the animal health practices at the New Zealand farms that they visited and the use of diversification, which involved the full maximization of available resources, enabling generation of a continual income stream throughout the year; something that the Andersons will may well look at introducing themselves.

Sheep category - Andrew and Tracie Heinrich of Ella Matta, South Australia.

The sheep farmers took the opportunity to visit Canada and the United States, confirming for themselves that the sheep industry in Australia is performing well in all aspects, including animal health.

The Canadian visit gave the opportunity for the farmers to investigate the worm resistant Katahdin sheep breed that grows hair rather than wool, ultimately deciding that their worm resistance did not  trade of against the low production levels of the breed.

Andrew and Tracie confirmed for themselves that “Aussie lamb is best.”

Dairy category - Phil and Lis Beattie of Styx River Farm, Tasmania.

The dairy farmers decided to split their prize into 2 trips; they will be visiting Chilean dairy farms later in 2011 and have already started to put their learnings into practice from their recent UK tour.

They have picked up and started to implement many small operational pointers.  Their key focus is to eventually move into the area of ice cream manufacture, as many UK dairies already do.

Phil and Lis also learned about the different animal health challenges confronted by producers in the UK, where Bovine tuberculosis, a problem that Australian dairy operators don’t face, has  made a significant impact on the way that dairy cattle are managed. While they learnt a lot, Phil and Lis said the trip left them feeling glad that their dairy is in Australia.

As well as gaining insight into the farming practices and health issues facing primary producers in different countries all of the winning farmers came away with many new international farming contacts to swap ideas and information with.

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