Sheep conference going ahead via virtual technology

The stage is set for an international sheep conference, thanks to virtual technology.

Called Head Shepherd, the event on April 16 has been organised by neXtgen Agri, whose team usually spent most of its days visiting clients and assisting with breeding programmes both in Australia and New Zealand.

It had come to a "screaming halt" with the Covid-19 lockdown and the team was now providing that support via video and phone calls, founder and agricultural geneticist Dr Mark Ferguson said.

"All of the events ... in the next few months have been cancelled," he said.

But one positive aspect had been that people were getting much better at using technology to communicate, so neXtgen Agri decided to provide some "positivity" to the farming community by organising a conference at short notice.

The response from speakers was “fantastic” and the line-up included fourth-generation South Australian merino farmer Rachel Titley, New Zealand agribusiness leader Traci Houpapa, NZX head of analytics Julia Jones, Emeritus Prof Herman Raadsma, from the University of Sydney, and Australian vet Dr Andrew Whale.

Along with strong interest from New Zealand and Australia, there had already been interest from the United Kingdom and Canada, Dr Ferguson said.

Secondary school pupils and tertiary students would have free entry to the conference.

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