Show Notes

This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have Rob Bell, Co founder and CTO at ProAgni and CEO and Principle Consultant at Formula Ag. Which Ferg translates to "knowing a lot about nutrition."

On this episode we're focusing on weaning, a process not too far away in parts of Australia.

Rob initially started off as an agronomist in the cotton industry but the droughts soon led to a change of career.  One thing that really struck him was that regardless of what happened, even in the worst draughts, livestock farmers still had an asset at the end. Whereas in the cropping game if you put a seed in the ground, and it didn't' germinate, you had nothing.

So for the past 16 years Rob has been finding his feet as a consultant in the mixed farming game. Rob says it was really a case of taking the lessons learned within the cotton industry and implementing them into a livestock business.

Six years ago ProAgni was born after a luck meeting with a ruminant microbiologist in Queensland led to an opportunity of creating something pretty outstanding in terms of antibiotic resistance and removing those challenges from the livestock industry. The past 6 years have been an interesting journey of turning relatively complex science into a commercial reality.

Mark and Rob discuss the process of weaning and how it shouldn't be an event, but rather a process

Rob breaks weaning down into three parts.

1. The physical process of weaning- what processes can we put in place to minimise stress on animals and management?

2. Pasture management-  we reduce 40% of our energy requirements on the farm at weaning which means we can built a feed reserve.

3. Economic- what do those three or four extra weeks of growth and grass banking mean at the other end of the business?

Rob speaks of the benefits getting young lambs well educated to high quality feed prior to weaning to reduce shock post weaning. Understanding the physical AND mental transitions the lambs are going through means it's less stressful for everyone.

The conversation then leads to discussing the ruminants gut biome and how sheep should be thought of as small fermentation chambers rather than grass digesters. This is important to know because when you wean lambs you are changing them from essentially a monogastric to a ruminant. This process requires good management and an understanding of the process internally in a lamb.

This podcast is full of more facts and information than you could possibly want on weaning and the biology behind the animals you farm.

If you'd like to get in touch with Rob, or find out more about ProAgni

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