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Successful adoption of new guidelines for the nutritional management of ewes is dependent on the development of appropriate tools and information
- Curnow, M., Oldham, C. M., Behrendt, R., Gordon, D. J., Hyder, M. W., Rose, I. J., Whale, J. W., Young, J. M., Thompson, A. N.
- Animal production science 2011 v.51 no.9 pp. 851-856
- Merino, catering, consultants, decision making, dietary recommendations, ewes, guidelines, innovation adoption, lambing, packaging
- Low rates of adoption of innovations in sheep management have been blamed on the poor targeting of messages, low relative advantage of the innovation, a focus on awareness-raising activities rather than adoption activities, poor ‘packaging’ of information and few effective tools to aid decision making. Lifetimewool, a national project that developed management guidelines for Merino ewes specific to regions and different times of lambing, used a ‘review and improve’ process to identify areas of interest, level of knowledge and the skills required by different sectors of the audience to adopt the new recommendations for ewe management. To match these needs and to effectively communicate information from Lifetimewool, a combination of simple and complex tools were produced which were practical, effective, regionally specific and credible. All of the products were designed as a ‘family’ in terms of design and content, allowing a recognition by the producer that they complemented each other and led producers through logical steps for making decisions on managing and feeding ewes. The average awareness of all tools by consultants and extensionists was almost 90% and average usage rates were above 50%. However, the usage rates varied dramatically between tools and users, for example, 46% of consultants used the feed budget tables compared with 76% of extensionists for a similar awareness. Of 1353 producers surveyed more than 55% were aware of the Lifetimewool tools and average usage within this group was 19% and related to the length of time the tool had been available. An estimated 14000 producers were aware of tools produced by Lifetimewool. The uptake and use of these tools by the target audiences support our hypothesis that tools of differing complexities are required to cater for individual needs.