Participant information

You are invited to participate in a research study (survey) on the effect of feeding practices on reproductive performance of ewes.

The study is being conducted by:
Principal Investigator: 
Dr Susan Robertson
Research Fellow (Graham Centre) and Lecturer in Science and Animal Production,
Charles Sturt University,
Wagga Wagga NSW 2678
Phone: 02 6933 4199

Other Researchers:
Professor Michael Friend and Dr Allan Gunn
Charles Sturt University

Before you decide whether or not you wish to participate in this study, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve.  Please take the time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish.
What is the purpose of this study? 
There is large variation in the reproductive performance of ewes (pregnancy and twinning rates, lambs marked) when supplementary fed in the paddock or when containment fed.  This project aims to identify whether some husbandry or feeding practices are impacting on ewe performance, so that better guidelines can be given to producers to improve lamb marking percentages.  

Why have I been invited to participate in this study?
All producers who own or manage a minimum of 300 breeding ewes and who have supplementary or containment fed ewes within the last 3 years are invited to participate.

What does this study involve? 
If you agree to participate, you will be asked questions for this research project relating to your sheep production, feeding practices and general sheep management and the reproductive performance of your ewes.  Your responses will be submitted anonymously via this online survey platform (SurveyMonkey) and the data will be downloaded and sent to the researchers.  The researchers will compile the data from all participants to determine whether practices result in good or poor reproductive performance so that better guidelines can be developed for producers.    

Are there risks and benefits to me in taking part in this study? 
We cannot promise you, as an individual, any benefit from participating in this research, as the research may or may not find any associations between husbandry practices and reproductive performance.  If associations are found, improved guidelines on sheep management will be distributed to the general industry, which you may choose to use or not. 

The questionnaire responses are anonymous so there is no risk of data being linked to known individuals.  If you do not feel comfortable providing your information on sheep production to a large anonymous data set, you are advised to not participate.   

How is this study being paid for? 
This study is being conducted by staff of Charles Sturt University, and no external organisations will have any input into the research results.

Will taking part in this study (or travelling to) cost me anything, and will I be paid? 
Participation in this study is voluntary, unpaid, and will take approximately 20 minutes of your time.  Participants can withdraw at any time without consequence.
What if I don't want to take part in this study? 
Participation in this research is entirely your choice.  Only those people who give their informed consent will be included in the project.  Whether you decide to participate or not, is your decision and will not disadvantage you.

What if I participate and want to withdraw later? 
Once you submit question responses, you are not able to withdraw from the study, because the data is submitted anonymously so cannot be identified to be withdrawn.

How will my confidentiality be protected? 
The questionnaire is anonymous and it will not be possible to identify you from your answers.  The data will be stored on an access-limited CSU server, and will only be accessed by the researchers involved.  Data entered into this online survey is protected by SurveyMonkey's privacy policy and security statement (please click on the word links for more information).

What will happen to the information that I give you?  
The data from all respondents will be grouped and summaries reported in scientific journals, and to producers in sheep industry publications (e.g. magazines, newspapers), at sheep industry events (e.g. field days), and on relevant websites (e.g. Graham Centre website).  Summaries of the data will be used to develop better guidelines for producers, and to inform future research areas.  The data may be reanalysed in future to better understand related aspects of sheep production.

Individual participants will not be identifiable in any reports arising from the project.

Since participants are anonymous, the results of the study can only be made available if the participant contacts the researcher to request a summary of the results, and provides their contact details.  Summaries of the results will be provided to the general industry.   

What should I do if I want to discuss this study further before I decide? 
If you would like further information about the project, please contact Dr Susan Robertson by email:, or phone: 02 6933 4199.

Who should I contact if this study causes concerns for me?
Participation in this study should involve no physical or mental discomfort.  However, if as a result of participating in this research you feel you need help or to talk to someone, support is available from the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health 1800 011 511 or for immediate support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If this study causes any concerns over sheep management, please contact the appropriate organisation, such as your local livestock advisory service, or veterinarian.

Who should I contact if I have concerns about the conduct of this study? 
Charles Sturt University’s Human Research Ethics Committee has approved this project [Protocol number H20076].  If you have any complaints or reservations about the ethical conduct of this project, you may contact the Committee via the following contact details:
     The Governance Officer
     Human Research Ethics Committee
     Ethics and Compliance Unit
     Locked Bag 588
     Wagga Wagga NSW 2678
     Ph: (02) 6933 4213

Any issues you raise will be treated in confidence and investigated fully, and you will be informed of the outcome. 

Thank you for considering this invitation.
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