Ewe management in focus

Ewe management in focus

WoTL’s ‘Ewe management for optimal performance’ workshop held in Pinnaroo in early March 2024 covered all aspects of ewe nutrition throughout the production cycle. Presented by Deb Scammell, of Talking Livestock, and organised by WoTL Ambassador, Danielle Nickolls, the event offered women from the mallee region an opportunity to come together to connect.

Workshop summary

The dry matter content of feed is the proportion of the feed that contains the valuable nutrients that ewes require for production. This is the portion of feed that is left after feed is dried out. The other portion of the feed is the moisture content which is just water. The dry matter content of hay and grain is often around 90% whereas by-products, or feeds such as silage, will be much lower in dry matter content, often around 20 – 40% dry matter and the rest is water. When we compare the value of particular feeds, we compare them on a dry-matter basis.

When we look at nutrient requirements of a ewe throughout the reproductive cycle (i.e from a dry ewe pre-joining throughout pregnancy, lambing and lactation) we primarily concentrate on energy. Energy is measured in MJ/Kg DM, depending on the mature weight (standard reference weight) of a ewe the maintenance energy requirement will differ. The energy requirement of a ewe increases into lambing with the requirements of a twin bearing ewe being 15% higher than a single bearing ewe. The ewe energy requirement peaks around a month after lambing which is peak lactation.

Protein is important whenever a ewe is growing out a foetus (during late gestation), during lactation (which will create higher quality milk for the growing foetus) and a growing young animal also requires extra protein. During early pregnancy, a ewe only requires about 8% total ration protein. This increases to 12 – 14% in late pregnancy and 14% during peak lactation.

Deb Scamell, Talking Livestock, presenting at WoTL's Ewe Management workshop in Pinnaroo

The condition score of the ewe determines what the reproductive reserves of the ewe are. When going into lambing for merino’s general condition score (CS) targets are CS 3 for a single and CS 3.3 for a twin bearing ewe. Lifetime wool research has shown merino ewes in better condition at lambing have heavier lambs. Lambs which are higher birthweight at lambing are likely to have higher survival rates, this is even more critical for twin-born lambs which are always lower birthweights with the ewes’ energy divided between two foetuses. Ewes that are in heavier condition scores at the point of lambing also have reduced ewe mortality. Ensuring ewes hit condition score targets enables a more productive sheep business with higher marking percentages and lower ewe mortality. If there is a large tail in a mob of ewes, especially when supplementary feeding or containment feeding ewes it can be worth drafting off the ‘skinnies’ and feeding them to allow them to gain condition prior to lambing.

Along with energy and protein, ewes also often require macro minerals, microminerals and vitamins to balance out the nutrients provided by paddock feed or supplementary feed into lambing. Calcium is critical when grain is being fed to allow ewes to develop the bone structure of the foetus and provide high quality milk and avoid issues such as hypocalcaemia (Calcium deficiency which can cause ewes to go down prior to lambing or during lactation). Magnesium can also assist muscle function into lambing.


Deb Scammell presenting at WoTL's ewe management workshop in Pinnaroo

As paddock feed grows over a season it starts as highly digestible feed with very high energy values, however it is often very low dry matter and high moisture content also at this early growth stage. As feed starts to mature the digestibility starts to decrease, by late summer and autumn often dry standing feed or stubbles are only around 40% digestibility and 5 – 6 MJ/kg DM. These pastures often supply less energy than that required for maintenance for even a dry ewe, so when we look at pregnant or lactating ewes during this time we need to consider the most economical way to supplementary feed to fill this gap.

There are many industry courses and workshops available which can assist to upskill producers in effectively managing ewes in a sheep enterprise. For more information you can contact Deb Scammell E. deb@talkinglivestock.com.au W: www.talkinglivestock.com.au

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board

This project was supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board through funding from the landscape levies and the South Australian Government.

TW2024 Call for abstracts OPEN!

TW2024 Call for abstracts OPEN!

Organisers of the popular Thriving Women Conference (TW2024) are inviting abstract submissions to present at this year’s event to be held at the Adelaide Hills Convention Centre, Hahndorf from 12 -13 August 2024. TW2024 is proudly hosted by WoTL (Women Together Learning).

TW2024 Conference Convenor, Toni Duka, has announced the conference theme, Be the change, will take centre stage, resonating with the vibrant and dynamic community of women connected through agriculture.

“The expectation of presentations is that they are largely based around “Toolbox Talks”, the idea being that whilst the audience is presented content, they are also given something to add to their “toolbox” to take home and put into practice,” explains Ms Duka.

 “We are providing the opportunity for presenters to engage the audience showcasing some key tools and approaches to help individuals gain the necessary capabilities to navigate change effectively, which requires a versatile toolkit that encompasses both practical skills and a resilient mindset.”

“We invite presenters to engage, reflect, and contribute to a conference experience rich in knowledge, inspiration, story-telling and collaborative growth. Presenting at a Thriving Women Conference is a wonderful way to showcase your subject matter expertise, share skills and knowledge, it also provides the opportunity to more closely connect and engage with up to 200 delegates.”

Toolbox Talk presenters are not limited to female presenters. All genders are encouraged to apply. Presentations are 50 minutes in duration, including question time.

Abstract submissions close on March 18 2024. Submissions can be made at www.wotl.com.au/thriving-women/abstract-call

Abstract call Jeanette Gellard

About Thriving Women

Thriving Women brings together 200 delegates connected through agriculture. Now an annual event, Thriving Women has been run in South Australia in 2018, 2020 and 2022 with the event being held in NSW for the first time in 2023. Thriving Women returns to South Australia in 2024.

Fostering a safe and welcoming environment, the event encourages the development of networks, knowledge, and skills through participation and contact with other delegates. Participation in TW2024 will empower delegates to be confident, capable, and influential, working towards a sustainable future for agriculture.

New faces join the WoTL Board of Directors

New faces join the WoTL Board of Directors

WoTL are excited to announce the appointments of (L-R) Joyce Ceravolo, Emily Mellor and Han Worsley to the WoTL Board of Directors.

Ms Ceravolo, a fourth-generation apple producer in the Adelaide Hills, brings a wealth of expertise and experience in many areas including business development, leadership, strategic planning and governance to the Board. She has extensive Board experience as the current President of Fruit Producers South Australia, is a Board member for Food SA and the Chair of the Next Generation Committee, an initiative of the South Australian Produce Market.

She resonates strongly with WoTL’s mission to empower and elevate women in agriculture.

“I am deeply passionate about WoTL’s mission, centered on empowering and elevating women in agriculture which resonates strongly with my personal and professional values,” says Ms Ceravolo.

“By joining the WoTL Board of Directors, I aim to further the organisation’s objectives by advocating for the rights and interests of women in agriculture. I am committed to fostering a culture of inclusivity and diversity, where every voice is heard and every woman in agriculture is supported.”

Ms Mellor brings over 20 years’ experience working within both State and Commonwealth Government departments across a broad range of primary industries including fisheries, aquaculture, water, forestry, biosecurity and livestock. Her skillset includes project management, policy development and analysis, stakeholder engagement and extension, strategic planning, grant administration and governance. As a beneficiary and participant in a number of WoTL events and programs, she understands the impact and reach WoTL is achieving.

“I’m excited to be giving back to an organisation that supports women to thrive in their chosen field”, says Ms Mellor.

“I have always been passionate about inspiring women in agriculture. I have also been a beneficiary of the Stepping into Leadership Program and am pleased to be able to continue to contribute to this great initiative as a mentor and alumni member.”

Han Worsley lives in the Snowy Mountains of NSW. A passion for gender equality and education opportunities in rural Australia was Han’s motivation to get involved with WoTL and help improve national program reach. Han was the CEO and Executive Director of Country to Canberra, a not-for-profit empowering young rural women and non-binary people to reach their leadership potential.

“The mission and values of WoTL speak to my passion for gender equality and RRR communities, which I have held since growing up on our mixed grazing property north of Nullamanna, NSW, and experiencing first-hand the challenges and triumphs of women in agriculture,” said Han.

“I am eager to bring my own experience and skills as an emerging Director to a Board that aligns with my values and learn from those more experienced. After first connecting with WoTL as a Toolbox Talk Presenter (at TW2022) I have followed the organisation and see the potential the WoTL network has to expand and grow.”

Thank you, Yung!

Yung Nietschke

WoTL thanks retiring Director, Yung Nietschke, for her valuable contribution over the past three years, expertly guiding the organisation through its recent expansion.

“Ms Nietschke’s considered and intelligent perspective always brought great insight to discussions”, said WoTL Chair, Susie Green.

“Her extensive experience working with women and girls right across the world, in program development and managing large-scale projects has added enormous value.

“We wish her all the best for her future endeavours.”

Highway women come together for first WoTL event

Highway women come together for first WoTL event

In early November 2023, women from townships along South Australia’s Mallee Highway came together for WoTL’s first event in the region. Organised by WoTL Ambassador and Stepping into Leadership alumnus, Fiona Woolfitt, participants from the localities of Geranium, Jabuk, Peake, Sherlock and Moorlands took some time out to learn and connect through participation in a morning crop walk.

Guided by independent agricultural consultant Jeff Braun, the group carpooled around the region viewing crops in the area. Many farms visited were those of participants.

Discussion topics included the suitability of different varieties more commonly sown in the area, different management techniques used and the challenges and successes of the current season.

“Jeff’s extensive knowledge of the Mallee, including land management practices, was incredibly insightful,” said Fiona.

Of particular interest was past land management practices and how this has resulted in Mallee Seeps, areas found in the low swales of sand dunes where the water table is coming to the soil surface, and what measures are being taken to help minimise the risk.


Fiona Woolfitt WoTL Ambassador



Participants also looked at the complexity of the cropping cycle and the planning involved.

“The planning process is much more complex than it first appears and considers many factors including the crops sown in the past, present and future, fertiliser and sprays applied. All these factors impact the crops that can be sown in the coming years,’ explained Fiona.

“It was very clear how valuable it is to engage an agronomist!”

The event armed participants with valuable knowledge to support them in providing input to assist with decision making in their own farming businesses.

As an introductory WoTL event, Kim Blenkiron, WoTL Executive Officer provided a brief overview of how the organisation works to support and assist women connected through agriculture.

WoTL thanks the property owners for access to their farms to be able to run this event.

Interested in becoming a WoTL Ambassador in your region? Get in contact with us and let’s have a chat. 

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board

This project was supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board through funding from the landscape levies and the South Australian Government.

TW2024 Conference Team announced!

TW2024 Conference Team announced!

WoTL is pleased to announce the organising team for the Thriving Women 2024 Conference to be held in Hahndorf, South Australia, from August 12-13.

Toni Duka has been appointed as Conference Convenor. Hailing from the Limestone Coast, Ms Duka has a passion for supporting regional women. Her ability to build rapport quickly together with her high level of enthusiasm will bring great energy to the role.

“’I feel honoured to have the opportunity to convene this incredible event. The conference team is a fabulous group of women who are passionate about maintaining the well-earned reputation of Thriving Women and bringing an inspiring event together. The team bring a wonderful range of experience, knowledge and strengths to the table which is sure to set a strong foundation for creating a meaningful and impactful event.”

The full 2024 Thriving Women Conference Team is:

Toni Duka – Conference Convenor

Sally Klose – Program Manager

Claire Fuller – Operations Manager

Lucy Morphett – Delegate Manager

Jo Powells – General Committee Member

Lucy Blenkiron – General Committee Member

Kelly Will – General Committee Member

SA’s peninsulas host June events

SA’s peninsulas host June events

June was the month for WoTL bus trips with groups gathering on both Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas to enjoy an interactive day out in great company, discovering some of the goings-on in their own backyard.

The upper Eyre Peninsula participants tackled an early start to make the trek across to Poodra Springs, a native flower farm owned by past Stepping into Leadership graduate, Jasmin Piggot. Jasmin spoke to the group about the challenging landscape on the eastern Eyre Peninsula, where she and her family farm, and explained how she has managed to diversify their enterprise – and indulge her passions – by developing a native flower farm despite the harsh weather conditions.

Lunch was served in the stunning space Jasmin has designed for events held at the farm, before the group jumped back on the bus and headed further up the road to Lucky Bay. It was here they were treated to a tour of T- Ports, discovering the inner workings of the grain storage and transport facility and spending some time on board ‘Lucky Eyre’, the vessel which transports grain from the port to be unloaded onto deep water vessels waiting out at sea.

“We were so lucky to have the opportunity to get on the boat. It was fascinating to see the inner workings of it all, especially as many families deliver their grain here. I dare say some of the men would be envious!” said organiser, Cathy Paterson.

Over on the Yorke Peninsula, WoTL Board Director and Ambassador, Leanne Pridham, hosted a day of connection and discovery, leading a local group of women on a busy and delicious day out learning about some of the amazing local businesses on the southern Yorke Peninsula. The first stop on the bus trip found them at Lower Yorke Seafood where Joanna Rowe took the group on a tour of the facilities, showing them some of the livestock and offering a tasting of the finished product.  

The group then made their way to Warooka where they toured the Ballara Art and Lifestyle Retreat and enjoyed a ‘healthful, whole food experience’ sampling the flavours of Southern Yorkes, thanks to chef Jo Minks of Nourished by Jo. A meditation and mindfulness session followed lunch, with a focus on how we can promote our everyday wellbeing through movement and connection, encouraging conversation and demonstration amongst the group.

“It was just such a great day out to connect with other women in the region. WoTL offer great opportunities to come together with like-minded people, be inspired and have the chance to talk informally about all things topical in our own lives”, said Leanne.

The final stop was the Watsacowie Brewery, where owners Brendan and Roxanne Phasey  shared their story of their business growth as the group enjoyed an afternoon tea and tour of the facilities.  

Connection in community is vital to the continued wellbeing of women in agricultural regions, and it is the pleasure of WoTL, with support from our funding partners and growing Ambassador network, to facilitate these events.

For more upcoming events held by WoTL, visit our events page.