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Evaluation of the impact of Lifetimewool on sheep producers
- Jones, A., van Burgel, A. J., Behrendt, R., Curnow, M., Gordon, D. J., Oldham, C. M., Rose, I. J., Thompson, A. N.
- Animal production science 2011 v.51 no.9 pp. 857-865
- attitudes and opinions, consultants, crossing, ewes, flocks, guidelines, industry, market segmentation, markets, professionals, surveys, wool, Australia
- Lifetimewool was a national project that began in 2001 to develop profitable ewe feeding and management guidelines for wool producers across southern Australia. By 2005, the project included communication and adoption activities. Rigorous communication, adoption and evaluation plans were used to maintain focus on its objectives and to measure impacts. Evaluation was an integral part of the project’s development and allowed the project to gain a clear idea of its impact. The project aimed to influence at least 3000 producers nationally to change the management of their ewe flock by the adoption (or part thereof) of Lifetimewool messages and guidelines. More specifically, the project aimed to ‘cross the chasm’ and target producers that were deemed to be in the ‘early adopter’ and the ‘early majority’ segments. The project surveyed sheep producers, sheep industry consultants and sheep industry extension practitioners at the beginning and end of the project to gauge the change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and aspirations of wool producers over the life of the project. Results from the survey of sheep producers in 2008 indicate that the project achieved its aim. About 12% (~3000) of sheep producers nationally have changed practice due to information received from Lifetimewool since 2005. Many other producers have been affected through their increase in knowledge, belief and skills, and market segmentation of the audience shows that the project was successful in ‘crossing the chasm’. The strategies employed by the project to initiate change (i.e. using private consultants and extension professionals as a pathway to adoption, and involving producers, consultants and extension professionals in the development of the Lifetimewool key messages and tools) were validated. The survey results and analysis provided baseline data for future livestock management projects to build on producers’ progress towards practice change. The present paper looks at how the Lifetimewool’s evaluation plan provided a focus for and demonstrated meeting its objectives. In doing so, this paper also seeks to better understand the adoption process.