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Carbon neutral shedding ewe lambs on AuctionsPlus

Moffitts Farm is demonstrating that carbon neutral red meat production is a reality in southern Australia’s agricultural zone if farmers adopt a significant area yet balanced whole farm tree planting program. And for the first time Moffitts Farm is selling future Wiltipoll breeding ewes with carbon neutral credentials on the electronic livestock selling site AuctionsPlus.

Forty five, 2021 drop Wiltipoll ewe lambs have been catalogued for sale on 10  May 2022.

Moffitts Farm is not just carbon neutral, it has been a net sink of CO2 to the tune of approximately 250tonnes CO2 equivalent per year since 2005. This has been achieved through extensive conservation corridor, riparian zone and farm forestry plantings which started in 1990 and now occupy 23% of the farm’s pasture area. The farm had just five native eucalypt trees growing before the Francis’ started their revegetation program, now there are in excess of 10,000 across a range of species.

The Francis’ use the University of Melbourne’s Farm Greenhouse gas accounting tool for beef and sheep properties to determine the farm’s emissions and sinks.

“Our eucalypt tree planting program over 20 years is the key to our farm’s carbon neutral status. Another contributing factor is holistic grazing management which enables us to grow high quality multi-species pastures without significant fertiliser inputs and to avoid all the emissions associated with fodder conservation and feeding out. The trees and shrubs have also resulted in co-benefits such as a spectacular increase in biodiversity, shade and shelter for livestock and a highly attractive landscape to live in.”

“We are also reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our farm with off-grid solar power, and minimising livestock methane emissions per kg of lamb carcase weight by growing lambs on high quality, high digestibility chicory and clover pastures. We are the only Wiltipoll flock utilising Sheep Genetic’s Lambplan indices to help identify the most productive ewes and rams to retain in our flock,” Patrick Francis says.

“The combination of high quality pasture for better nutrition and Lambplan index selection are practical ways ruminant livestock farmers can make a difference to lowering emissions. It’s a neat fit with the red meat industry’s and increasing consumer expectations for practical actions on farms to produce as much carbon neutral lamb and beef as possible to meet the CN30 target by 2030” .

Figure: The red meat industry has adopted a carbon neutral by 2030 objective which retailers are beginning to support with carbon neutral meat as they recognise their customers will increasingly demand foods where farmers and processors are taking action to minimise production of associated greenhouse gases.

Figure: By adopting a balanced approach to revegetation across Moffitts Farm since 1990 the 23% of pasture area now under conservation corridors, riparian zone and farm forestry blocks means the property has been a net carbon sink since 2005 and should continue to be so until approximately 2035. Note the obvious trees in the 1986 image are pines, cypress and hawthorn hedges.

The Francis’s have been extremely pleased with their Wiltipoll flock key performance indicators such as a six year 140% plus average whole flock spring lambing weaning percentage (Wiltipoll ewes peak fertility is in autumn); 100% of ewes with maternal behaviour scores of 1 or 2 (means a ewe will not move more than 10m away from the shepherd checking new born lambs); lamb growth rates on chicory clover pastures varying between 240 and 410grams per day depending on seasonal rainfall; and an average 52% carcase dressing percentage.

A large proportion of Moffitts Farm wether lambs are sold each year to Meatsmith a high-end chain of butcher shops in Melbourne. The business requires lamb of the highest taste and eating quality and supports farmers who have the animal welfare and environmental credentials it contends its customers are looking for.

The “Moffitts Farm” Wiltipoll ewe lambs have been assessed and catalogued for the sale by Ballarat agent Matt White, T.B. White and Sons.

Figure: These carbon neutral Moffitts Farm Wiltipoll ewe lambs grazing a chicory/clover pasture with a revegetated riparian zone in the background, will be catalogued for the AuctionPlus sheep sale on 10 May.

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