Jonathan Hickford

Professor in Animal Breeding and Genetics

Professor Jon GH Hickford BSc(Hons) (Lincoln College – Cant) PhD (Otago), Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand (CRSNZ), Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science (FNZIAHS)
Molecular genetics of livestock including sheep, goats and cattle with particular   emphasis on gene-marker technology to breed healthier livestock.
Directs the operation of the Lincoln University Gene-Marker Laboratory.
Jon has worked at Lincoln University since 1989, teaching into science and agriculture degree programmes. He undertakes research in molecular genetics with emphasis on using gene-marker technology to breed healthier livestock. He is actively involved in the community in discussions about science, gene technology, agriculture and sheep breeding.
Jon was born and educated in Christchurch, and is married to Kim with three sons, Thomas, William and James and a daughter Isabelle.

Presentation Overview

Jonathan’s presentation will focus on his observation that it is very easy to get caught up in the hubris around new technologies like genomics, and primarily because we are all optimistic when it comes to what we think they might deliver in future. The problem is of course that we only ever have 20:20 vision in hindsight, and so often the promise of a better future doesn’t quite deliver the things we imagined.
This will be true of genomics, because while it is now easy to find genes, it is still immensely challenging to work out how they are switched on and off, how they interact with each other, and how they interact with the environment. In that context Corriedale breeders do need to support genomics approaches, BUT also realise they need to also use more conventional quantitative genetic approaches for key traits and good breeding practice for qualitative traits. All that, and keep a close eye on the market, and rising consumer demand for natural products produced from sheep farmed with the highest welfare standards and transparency in the production system. No one says it will be easy!

Matthew Dickinson

Agriculture and Horticultural Studies, Ballarat Grammar

Matt has been teaching Agriculture and Horticultural Studies at Ballarat Grammar since 2009. He is responsible for Year 10 Aghort Elective, VCE Units 1 to 4 Aghort and VET Cert IV Agriculture. As the Farm Manager at Ballarat Grammar he looks after the 125 acre property, which lies 4kms north from the main School campus. Since the purchase of the farm 8 years ago, he has implemented a new farm plan, redesigning the fencing, paddocks and laneway system.
The School runs a Lowline Cattle stud, a Corriedale sheep stud, pigs, poultry, horses and cropping, as well as pasture improvements. Over 2000 native tress have been planted in an extensive program to improve biodiversity across the farm.
Each year the sheep and cattle are exhibited at a range of shows and events, including ASBA Bendigo, Sheepvention and Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne Royal shows at various times in the past. Ballarat Grammar has over 70 students currently studying Agriculture at the school.
One of the highlights for Matt is catching up with past students who are now working in the industry.

Marius Cuming

Corporate Communication Manager, Australian Wool Innovation

Marius Cuming is the Corporate Communication Manager at Australian Wool Innovation, parent company to The Woolmark Company. He also owns and runs a small woolgrowing and prime lamb business in western Victoria with 1800 ewes.
Coming from a background in rural journalism, he is responsible for communicating with woolgrowers about what AWI does on their behalf but has initiated a number of programs that have bridged the gap between the farmer and consumer. Marius enjoys connecting woolgrowers with designers, brands, processors and ultimately, consumers and speaks as a passionate farmer, woolgrower, woolclasser and agricultural scientist.

Wayne Pitchford

Wayne did Agricultural Science at University of Adelaide (1984-1987) and during his final year obtained First Class Honours for a sheep breeding project. He worked for CSIRO Water Resources for a year and then did his PhD in Sydney (1989-92). He was appointed Lecturer in Animal Breeding and Genetics at University of Adelaide in 1992, promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1998, Associate Professor in 2007 and Professor in 2014. His main focus has been on beef cattle breeding and always in partnership with molecular geneticists. Wayne has been a program leader in two Beef Cooperative Research Centres, had projects in Sheep CRC and on the board of the Pork CRC. He currently has projects on beef cattle maternal efficiency in partnership with New Zealand, advanced carcass measurement technologies in partnership with leading abattoirs, cattle handling and beef quality, lamb survival, lamb eating quality, development of fodder beet and two large commercial beef genomic selection programs.  He leads the Corriedale Eating Quality Genomics project. He has supervised over 80 postgraduate students and published over 200 papers. The most exciting teaching program he has been involved in since 2012 is taking students to Indonesia and more recently Cambodia where they can learn about culture, trade, tropical animal production, poverty alleviation and many other things.  Since 2014 Wayne has also hosted a reciprocal tour group of students from Indonesia who join Australian students in the Inter-Collegiate Meat Judging competition.    

In 1989 Wayne married Judith Lush from Corriedale Hills stud. They have recently purchased a grazing property at Keith, SA which is run by their eldest son James. Their second son Royce is an Agribusiness consultant and runs a small Corriedale stud (Lushford Corriedales) with ewes purchased from the Coora dispersal in 2012 and he is a member of the Performance Corriedale Group. Their third son Darcy is an apprentice Carpenter.

Blair McCormick

Technical Services Manager, PGGWrightson Seeds

Blair McCormick is the Technical Services Manager of the PGGWrightson Seeds Australia parent company, representing all brands within the Australian market place. Blair and his team evaluate new products for the best fit for cropping and livestock farming systems, then determine where to position the new products to maximise value to the farmer. Blair started with the wider business in 2007 and has held a variety of roles and spent time on livestock farms across all of Australia and New Zealand. Blair grew up in Bendigo, North Central Victoria and has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Melbourne.

Presentation Overview

Blair’s presentation will explain the role forages play in the sheet meat industry along with the what is currently used in the Australian marketplace. With many farming systems, there are a wide range of options including alternative forages to maximise meat production. The Corridale’s breed brings versatility to the farming system and Blair will discuss a wide range of forage options and management associated to maximise production and productivity to a sheep meat farming enterprise.    

Hannah Gordon

University of Adelaide

Hannah grew up on her family’s mixed sheep and cropping farm at Coonalpyn, SA. After leaving the farm to attend boarding school in Adelaide she decided that she wanted to pursue a career in agriculture, particularly in sheep production. At the University of Adelaide Hannah participated in extra-curricular events such as the National Merino Challenge, the Intercollegiate Meat Judging Competition, and a livestock production systems study tour of Indonesia. She completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences in 2017 (2015-2017), and this year has commenced an Honours project titled “Genomic analysis of eating quality in Corriedale lambs” under the supervision of Professor Wayne Pitchford. Hannah has very much enjoyed working with the Performance Corriedale Group during her Honours, and is eager to share the findings of her project upon its completion.

John Larsen

Director and Senior Researcher, Mackinnon Project

Associate Professor John Larsen is currently the Director and a senior researcher with the Mackinnon Project, a research and consultancy group within the University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences at Werribee (Victoria, Australia). 
John graduated in Veterinary Science from the University of Melbourne in 1978 and worked with the Victorian Department of Agriculture, first as a veterinary pathologist in 1979, then a field veterinarian until 1997. He completed his PhD project on parasite immunology with the University of Melbourne in 1997. This studied the problem of scouring and dags in adult Merino sheep – not an ideal after dinner topic for non-sheep people, but one that is close to the hearts of most if not all sheep producers in high rainfall areas! This followed an interest in internal and external parasites of sheep which has continued since joining the Mackinnon Group in 1998.
John has developed a detailed knowledge of the grazing industries, and has worked closely with sheep producers on a range of research and extension projects over the past 30 years. His research has been supported by many sponsors, including MLA, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the Victorian and Federal Governments, veterinary pharmaceutical companies, private trusts and farmer groups. During this time, he has published over 30 articles in refereed scientific journals and presented or co-authored over 70 papers at veterinary and farmer conferences.
His current projects include assessing the production effects of lung worms on heavily infected sheep farms and collecting data to validate a computer model and decision support decision support tool on gut roundworm infections.

Presentation Overview

Sheep and are managed under diverse seasonal conditions and management systems, both within Australia and elsewhere around the world. Because of these differences, it is difficult to make universal recommendations about what ‘sustainable’ control programs for gut roundworms (‘worms’) and sheep blowflies should be. However, some broad principles can be applied. For example, to be effective and profitable in the longer term, control programs should cost-effectively prevent unacceptable production losses, but also avoid practices that encourage rapid selection for resistance to worm drenches or the limited groups of insecticides that are available for blowfly control.