Head Shepherd

Head Shepherd

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.


April 22, 2024 32 mins

When the going gets tough on farm, it's the tough who get going. But what fuels that resilience? 

This week on the Head Shepherd podcast, we have Kane Brisco of FarmFitNZ to discuss mental wellbeing, farm fitness and community.

In his late twenties, Kane found himself in a tough spot. He’d stopped participating in his local rugby team and his passion for farming had faded, so he didn’t know what to do with himself. Ins...

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Replacement rates in your sheep flock are determined by your ewe losses and your culling decisions. For every ewe lamb you choose to keep, that’s one less to sell. 

In this week's podcast our guest, Associate Professor Anne Ridler, discusses the findings from her recent study on ewe wastage in New Zealand sheep farming. Anne’s research found that, on average, 28 to 30 per cent of ewes leave the flock annually in New Zealan...

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April 8, 2024 48 mins

In this current climate, should you be looking for ways to save money on farm? Or should you be looking at upping your production to cover rising costs?

This week on the Head Shepherd podcast, we hope to answer those questions for you.

Our guest this week, Tim Leeming, is well known for his precision lambing and we’ve had him as a guest on the podcast before (go check that one out here). 

In this episode...

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Our guest on the podcast this week is Bonnie Skinner. 

Bonnie is the CEO of Sheep Producers Australia (SPA), a levy board that advocates for a better future for Australia’s sheep industry. They do this in a multitude of ways: connecting farmers, consumers and government bodies. They advocate for better outcomes for farmers and direct levy investments towards research, development and industry services.

In this episode, Bonn...

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With greater unpredictability in our weather patterns, managing pastures is an ever-evolving challenge for farmers. This week on the podcast we hope to help with some handy advice from consultant, Darren Gordon.

This week we cover:

  • The importance of pasture and feed-quality testing
  • The genetics of fat and feed efficiency 
  • Maximising profit from pasture

Darren emphasises the importance of testing your pastures and feed, includin...

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This week on the podcast, we’re talking about Flexolt®, a revolutionary new oral treatment for lice control in sheep.

Our guests are Dr Jane Morrison and Dr Hamish Pike from our fantastic sponsors, MSD Animal Health.

Flexolt is the first-ever oral lice treatment for sheep, giving you the ultimate flexibility when it comes to treating your flock. It can be used rain or shine, with any length of wool, revolutionisin...

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What are breeding values? And why do you need a breeding objective? Our guest this week, Dr Jamie Courter, Mizzou Beef Genetics Extension Specialist, explains why they are so important for reaching our breeding goals. 

Do you have a breeding objective? This is the first question Jamie asks every producer. “I don't care what your breeding objective is if it makes sense for you,” says Jamie, “I just hope that you h...

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Tune in to our latest podcast episode as Emily Riggs, the founder and creative force behind Iris and Wool, shares her inspiring journey. 

Emily and her husband live on a sheep property outside of Burra, South Australia. “I fell in love with my farmer and also fell in love with wool,” explains Emily. “I don't actually work hands-on on the farm. So, I thought, how can I contribute to the industry?” Out of this, Iris and Wool...

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This week on the podcast, Darren Spencer, President of the Western Australian Shearing Industry Association (WASIA), discusses some of the key issues faced by the wool industry, as well as how wool producers and the shearing industry can work together more effectively in the future.

First up, Darren runs us through what WASIA has done to address the much talked about “shearers’ shortage”. 

In the wake of COVID, it was obvio...

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The agricultural trading sector faces challenges with volatile prices and increased government regulations. Our guest this week, David Cornish, explains how strategic planning is crucial to position your business to successfully navigate these issues. 

In the current environment, “We've seen businesses that were quite profitable or quite sustainable, even 12 months ago, now making a loss,” explains David. With high in...

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February 12, 2024 27 mins

This week on the podcast, we’re discussing technology adoption and genetics with Dr Penny Schulz.

Penny farms in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia (SA) with her husband Jason. She is a livestock technical specialist at the SA Drought Hub, as well as holding several other advisory positions. 

“My role here with The (SA Drought) Hub is very much focused on farmer adoption,” Penny explains. “I do a lot of...

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Are you passionate about breeding robust and resilient animals? If so, this is the podcast for you.

Our guest this week is Dr Wendy Rauw, a renowned expert in animal genetics and breeding. Wendy's career has taken her to various corners of the world, working with a diverse range of species, from sheep and cattle to chickens and even fish. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table.

In this e...

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📢 Calling all sheep enthusiasts! This week's guest is Mark Mortimer, aka @sheepgeekCP on Twitter. Mark is both a sheep farmer and an innovator with an incredible mind for numbers and technology.

Raised on a merino stud, Mark has been recording sheep data for as long as he can remember. One of his first 'inventions' was voice-to-text software so that he didn’t have to write down the numbers his dad called ou...

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Are you proactive when it comes to your livestock's health? This week on the podcast, we have vet and “animal agronomist”, Jillian Kelly, on the show talking about forward planning when it comes to livestock health and husbandry. 

After working as a practising vet around the world, Jillian decided she wanted to approach her job a little differently. She didn’t want to just help calve a cow, for example, she wanted to ...

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With extensive experience working with AgResearch, Abacus Bio, the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, the New Zealand Medical Cannabis Council and (in her current role) as Genetics Programme Manager at Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), our guest this week, Dr Gemma Jenkins, has a passion for genetics.

Gemma's primary focus at B+LNZ is genetic improvement in the beef industry via the Informing New Zealand Beef Programme...

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In this week's podcast, discover how optimising soil health is your key to farming profitability. We're joined by Melinda Turner from Farm Nutrient Advisory, a specialist in the fields of animal science, soil and plant sciences. Melinda brings a straightforward, no-nonsense approach to this complex subject. 

Melinda discusses some of the common challenges in nutrient management. It's such a vast topic and, w...

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January 1, 2024 47 mins

Our guest this week needs little introduction. In this episode, Ferg catches up with Jamie Ramage, a passionate individual in the agricultural industry. Ferg and Jamie begin with one of their favourite topics: maternal efficiency. 

From there, the conversation covers the evolving landscape of sheep breeding, especially the shift towards composite sheep. We also dive into the ProBreed programme and glimpse into the future o...

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This week Mark is chatting to fellow podcaster, Oli Le Lievre. Raised in Sydney, Oli’s connection to agriculture was sparked by his family's farming roots in western Victoria, "I'm a city boy who fell in love with agriculture," he says. 

Oli, in his own words, “attempted” university twice, which changed his trajectory in the industry. “I began to gain exposure to the agribusiness and agriculture value c...

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This week on the podcast, Mark chats with Hayley Purbrick, a key figure at Tahbilk Winery, one of Victoria's oldest and most esteemed wineries. Hayley, a fifth-generation winemaker, has spent a decade transforming the winery's environmental policies, achieving an impressive feat of carbon neutrality. She is an advocate for understanding data, transforming it from a burden into a tool for efficiency and sustainability.

We d...

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Dr David Notter spent 25 years looking into the seasonality of breeding sheep and how to reduce it via genetic selection. We are very lucky to have him as a guest on the podcast today to share his wisdom on all things sheep breeding.

In 1977, the American Sheep Industry Association identified a pressing challenge: reducing seasonality in ewe breeding. Virginia Tech became the base for this research, where they aimed to cr...

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