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Simulation of the supply capability of sheep on the Mitchell grass downs of north west Queensland

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Pepper, P.M., Dunlop, L.B., Weston, E.J. and Cloonan, D. (2001) Simulation of the supply capability of sheep on the Mitchell grass downs of north west Queensland. In: Proceedings of the MODSIM 2001 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation, 10-13 December 2001, Canberra, Australia.


Publisher URL: http://mssanz.org.au


Sheep in western Queensland have been predominantly reared for wool. When wool prices became depressed interest in the sheep meat industry, increased. For north west Queensland producers, opportunities may exist to participate in live sheep and meat export to Asia. A simulation model was developed to determine whether this sheep producing area has the capability to provide sufficient numbers of sheep under variable climatic conditions while sustaining the land resources. Maximum capacity for sustainability of resources (as described by stock numbers) was derived from an in-depth study of the agricultural and pastoral potential of Queensland. Decades of sheep production and climatic data spanning differing seasonal conditions were collated for analysis.

A ruminant biology model adapted from Grazplan was used to simulate pregnancy rate. Empirical equations predict mortalities, marking rates, and weight characteristics of sheep of various ages from simple climatic measures, stocking rate and reproductive status. The initial age structure of flocks was determined by running the model for several years with historical climatic conditions. Drought management strategies such as selling a proportion of wethers progressively down to two-tooth and oldest ewes were incorporated. Management decisions such as time of joining, age at which ewes were cast-for-age, wether turn-off age and turning-off rate of lambs vary with geographical area and can be specified at run time.

The model is run for sequences of climatic conditions generated stochastically from distributions based on historical climatic data correlated in some instances. The model highlights the difficulties of sustaining a consistent supply of sheep under variable climatic conditions.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:Reproduced with permission from © Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, [MSSANZ]
Keywords:Sheep; supply capability; variable climate; simulation.
Subjects:Animal culture > Sheep
Science > Statistics > Simulation modelling
Live Archive:15 Mar 2005
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:47

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