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.


March 20, 2023 32 min

Today on the podcast we have a different kind of guest! We have the incredible Dr. Roswitha Baumung who currently works at the Division for Animal Production and Health of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Roswitha has always had a passion for animals. She studied Agriculture and completing her pHD on Animal breeding and genetics.  "I was especially interested in the genetics of small ...

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It is always interesting to compare different farming systems across this world. This week on the podcast we have Dr Tim Keady speaking about farming in Ireland. Having recently returned from a trip to New Zealand, Tim has a great insight at how the different systems compare.

"We went to see the use of different technologies on-farm, with the intention of reducing labour and improving efficiency. So, we decided to go ...

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If you can optimise your stocking rate for your season, there's no reason you can't make profit in livestock. However, accessing capital for trading and breeding stock, isn't always easy and can hold a producer back. 

That's where Richard Brimblecombe and Legacy Livestock come in. Richard is a "Queenslander through and through" who always had a hankering for numbers. After a career in banking,...

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Want to know more about sheep parasites? This week we have Ginny Dodunski on the podcast chatting everything from drenches and capsules, to resistance and refugia. This podcast is full of handy helpful tips which will hopefully make you take a step back and look at your worm management program on farm.

In the last 12 month Ginny has been the Wormwise program manager but prior to that Ginny was (and still is) a practicing ...

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This week we are discussing markets and were lucky to secure some time with Matt Dalgleish to talk through the current markets and current trends.  Matt has a wealth of experience in livestock markets.

Matt works with Andrew Whitelaw and together they have founded Episode 3 to provide market analytics.  You can find out more about their work at Episode 3 

They began working together in commodity market analysis in...

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This week we bring you Ferg's thoughts on innovation and particularly the role Artificial Intelligence will play in livestock farming in the future.   The uptake of innovations in livestock breeding in the last 20 years is about to go into over drive and we are on the cusp of big changes in how sheep breeding happens across the industry.  There will be two options for those breeders out there - adapt or be disrupted.

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Mark Wragg transitioned from Romney ewes to a finer wool cross three years ago. Today he chats to Mark Ferguson about that process and also about the introduction of a White Suffolk stud to their business.

After attending a NZM workshop a few years ago Cheviot, which Mark Ferguson spoke at, Mark Wragg decided to make the jump into transitioning to finer wool genotype.

"A long time ago they tried merinos but...

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 This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have another senior scientist of AgResearch, Tricia Johnson.

Following on from our podcast with Dr Suzanne Rowe on "Genetic selection for lower methane in ruminants", we invited Tricia on to focus on her research in one of Marks favourite topics, feed efficiency and body composition.

Tricia has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to sheep phenotypes and genetic...

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This week on the podcast we have the wonderful Prue Bondfield.

Prue didn't have a traditional pathway into agriculture. "In terms of the beef industry my association there started when I got married to my husband who owned a Charolais stud. I was a lawyer in Brisbane, Queensland." Says Prue. "It was really city meets country in the best way".

From the time David and Prue purchased 50 cows...

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This week we have a fantastic podcast for you discussing a very hot topic, Methane emissions in ruminants.

We have Dr Suzanne Rowe, Senior Scientist at AgResearch talking about the history of recording methane in sheep, what the industry is currently doing towards reducing methane emissions and where the future of methane in sheep is heading.

Dr Rowe was born and raised in the UK, studied Agriculture and has a Ph...

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January 2, 2023 21 min

This week we have another in our "Fergs Thoughts" series. Seeing as it's the start of a New Year, Mark chats about what we can achieve in the future. 

"How can we set ourselves up for success in 2023?" Mark asks  "We always think back to that 30 years, depending on where you are in your farming cycle. That '30' being the number of times you get to select a bull or ram tea to go out....

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This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have our freshest recruit, James Lines.

After only 9 days on the job, Mark got James onto the head shepherd podcast to talk about his upbringing and what lead to him applying for a job at a genetics consultancy firm.

James grew up on a mixed farming enterprise, which also had the Gum Hills Merinos stud and south Devon cattle. After a 'gap year' working on the hom...

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This week on the Head Shepherd podcast, we're changing gears a little and chatting with author Michelle Scott Tucker.

Having an audience of mostly sheep tragics, Mark thought the parallels between Michelles book, Elizabeth Macarthur: a life at the edge of the world; and our listeners was too good not to make the most of.

Michelle tells us more about the wonderful Elizabeth Macarthur and the foundations of the...

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This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have Sarah talking about genetics, technology and solving problems in the Agricultural industry.

Sarah is currently Global Strategy and New Ventures Manager at Gallagher and also breeds Polled Dorsets in the Waikato, NZ. Sarah grew up on a farm with a father who was a ram breeder. "I have always been around stud sheep," says Sarah

After spending some time after ...

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This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have Professor Simon de Graaf, a fellow podcaster and a world expert in sheep reproduction, sperm sexing and AI.

Simon is currently a Professor of Animal Reproduction at The University of Sydney,  where he says 90% of the work he does now is sheep "But my background is such that we've dealt with a lot of different species."

Simons work in reproduction began ...

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This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have Jason Strong, Managing Director of Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd. (MLA)

Jason grew up on a farm and says "I can never remember not wanting to be a cow farmer." He says that winning a scholarship to the University of Illinois in his late teens was "transformative" in his career. 

"The most important thing was learning about meat grading an...

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November 21, 2022 35 min

This week on the Head Shepherd Podcast, we head over to Europe to chat with Cathy Dwyer.

Cathy is based in Edinburgh and splits her time between two roles. One at Scotlands Rural College, leading a team of researchers in Animal Welfare and Behaviour and the other at the Royal School of Veterinary Studies where they have a centre for Animal Welfare Education of which Cathy is a Director.

We invited Cathy onto the ...

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This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have Charlie de Fegely chatting about things all things sub clover and beyond.

Charlie farms in Western Victoria in the foothills of The Grampians. They average around 550mm of rainfall per year and are in a predominantly cropping area but they have chosen to be all stock because of their heavy clay soils.

Charlie and his family will be mating 10,000 ewes this year. Last y...

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November 7, 2022 23 min

This week, to tide you over between seasons, we've released two of our Head Shepherd Premium podcasts for you. 

Mark recently uploaded a series on different traits that might be important for our clients. In the "Breeding Series", Mark covers many traits. From staple length, to growth to muscling. 

We've decided to share CVoFD and Fat with you today. CVoFD might seem like an unusual one but as ...

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October 31, 2022 29 min

We've reached the end of season 8 and we've got a great Q&A podcast for you. 

We have questions from “What's your opinion on Australia’s LEQ index compared to focusing solely on IMF and shear force figures if your number one breeding objective is to increase eating quality?” to "Is there any correlation between worm burdens/high genetic WEC and dermatitis/wool rot?"

Mark also covers br...

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