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Beyond the Bale : March 2015
ON FARM 39 Whilst most of the F1 wethers and F2 progeny will not be used in the lifetime productivity project, other than to measure weaning weight, it is envisaged that they will be available for other projects as well as wether trials. Merino Sire Evaluation sites will pay 100 per cent of the standard sire evaluation trial data collection costs. This will be funded through entry fees paid by ram breeders, as has been the case for the past 25 years during which Merino Sire Evaluation has operated in Australia. In order to have 20 ewes at six years of age by each sire, twice as many ewes are required to be joined by the sire evaluation site at the beginning of the trial. To make this possible, AWI will be funding the additional progeny, as well as the collection of all the repeat adult lifetime data. All F1 ewe progeny will be retained, with the exception of a small percentage of culls made for welfare considerations. It is envisaged that the sire evaluation sites involved in the project will be located in diverse environments and vary in sheep types, lambing dates, seasonal challenges and shearing dates. 2015 JOINING The Elders Victoria (Balmoral) sire evaluation site will be the first site to join in 2015. AI is planned for 23-26 March. The site has the scope to enter 24 sires (2160 ewes). The trial is being run at ‘Tuloona’, Harrow. Tuloona is owned by the Craig family with Michael Craig the property manager. Michael is also the treasurer of the Elders Victoria Sire Evaluation Association and a current Nuffield scholarship recipient. Tuloona runs a self-replacing fine wool Merino operation encompassing approximately 12,000 ewes. Whilst cast for age (CFA) and cull ewes are joined to terminal sires, the majority of the ewes are joined to Merinos. The Merinos are typical of western Victorian fine wools and are moderately framed with an average adult fibre diameter of approximately 17 micron. Recently, genetics have been introduced into the flock in order to increase body weight and allow for wether lambs to be turned off over the hook. Merino Bloodline Performance delivers important commercial information to the Merino industry, tracking the profitability and performance of 71 Merino bloodlines in wether trials conducted across four states. Funded by AWI and the NSW Department of Primary Industry, the Merino Bloodline Performance Report summarises the wealth of data arising over the most-recent 10-years of Australian wether trials, and shows a significant variation in production between bloodlines. The results from 22 wether trials in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania have been summarised, revealing the bloodlines have a genetic variation of 3.5 microns in fibre diameter, 30 per cent in clean fleece weight, 23 per cent in live weight and 40 per cent in profit $/DSE. AWI General Manager of Research, Paul Swan said the report was an example of AWI's commitment to genetic research, development and extension. “Wether trials are a really important way for commercial growers to benchmark their own performance or that of the major Merino bloodlines in a commercial setting. It is a key part of our national sheep genetic improvement landscape, and for this reason, AWI is very pleased to continue our long association with Merino Bloodline Performance analysis.” Launching the report last month, NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson said, “the production differences shown in the report translate into very significant differences in bloodline profitability and bloodlines can be compared on the profit per head or profit per dry sheep equivalent (DSE).” NSW DPI research scientist, Sue Hatcher, said Merino producers can confidently use the data from Merino Bloodline Performance to assist in selecting bloodlines that best suit their breeding objectives. “One ewe productivity trial and 22 wether trials have each run from between two to four years, ensuring high accuracy in the data collected,” Dr Hatcher said. “This information gives a very reliable indication of potential profitability from the bloodlines.” Genetic data has been isolated from seasonal and geographic environmental differences by grouping multiple bloodlines into teams of wethers across the trial sites. MORE INFORMATION www.merinobloodlines.com.au Commercial woolgrowers wanting to identify the best ram source to match their own breeding objective can use the newly released Merino Bloodline Performance report to compare Merino bloodlines evaluated at different wether and ewe trials run across Australia over the past 10 years. WWW.DPI.NSW.GOV.AU Merino bloodline performance Which bloodline will make you the most money? TRIAL INFORMATION RELEASED WETHER AND EWE ELMORE EWE TRIAL The final shearing of the Elmore Ewes for the Future; Lambs, Wool & Profit Trial has taken place and the results are on the Elmore Field Day website. It began in 2009, to compare the merits of five alternative sheep types. The results assist sheep producers determine the merits of a number of ewe breed alternatives. The main characters of interest have been lambing percentages, lamb growth rates and wool production. The five breed-types are each represented by 42 ewes. Each breed type group was randomly selected from three properties, with 14 ewe lambs per property after an allowance for culling. The ewes were run together as one mob except at lambing over four lambings. A new trial starts in 2015. MORE INFORMATION www.elmorefielddays.com.au Some of the members of the Elders Balmoral Sire Evaluation Committee.