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Beyond the Bale : December 2015
38 ON FARM How do sheep types compare for prime lamb and for wool production? This question has been debated by sheep producers for years. The Elmore Field Days trial, which began in January 2009, has published its final report that will help sheep producers determine the merits of a number of ewe breed alternatives for prime lamb and wool production. TRIAL DUAL PURPOSE MERINOS ARE TOP PERFORMERS ELMORE FIELD DAYS In the trial five breed types of ewes were joined to terminal sires, either White Suffolk or Poll Dorset for six years; their first joining was as ewe lambs. The ewe breed types were: BORDER LEICESTER X MERINO CROSS The most common prime lamb mother in northern Victoria; ewes were sourced with the help of the $uperBorder$ group. MERINOS, LODDON VALLEY The second most common prime lamb mother in northern Victoria; based on Peppin bloodlines with some influence from South Australian bloodlines. Ewes were sourced with the help of the Loddon Valley Stud Merino Breeders Association. These local ewes were compared to three dual purpose Merinos that have been recently introduced to the district. CENTRE PLUS MERINO Centre Plus is a group breeding scheme and Merino stud in Central West NSW that aims to produce multipurpose sheep. Sheep were sourced with help from the group. DOHNE The Dohne Merino is a dual-purpose breed developed in South Africa. In 2008 the Dohne breed was in the early stages of introduction to Australia from South Africa. Two properties supplied F2 ewe lambs while the third property supplied F3 ewes. Sheep were sourced with the assistance of the Australian Dohne Breeders Association. SAMM The South African Meat Merino is a dual- purpose sheep originally bred in South Africa. In 2008 the SAMM breed was in the early stages of introduction to Australia. Two properties supplied F3 ewe lambs while the third supplied a mix of F2s and F3s. Sheep were sourced with the assistance of the Prime SAMM Breeders’ Society of Australia. RESULTS The ewes were run together as one mob except at lambing. The results presented in the tables opposite only cover the five adult years. The first year joining as ewe lambs occurred only seven weeks after their arrival on the Elmore farm and their body weights and age were the main reasons for the breed differences. Lambing percentages, lamb growth, wool and easy care characters are all highly relevant to improving profitability, but no single ewe type exceled in all compartments. The main results and estimated returns are shown in the tables. Lambs from the Dohne and Centre Plus ewes were only 1.5 kg lighter than the lambs from Border Leicester x Merino ewes on the date of the first lamb sale. The Centre Plus ewes lambed 20 per cent better than the local Merinos and Dohnes; they were only 16 per cent behind the Border Leicester x Merino ewes. The Loddon Valley Merino and Centre The trial is run by the Elmore Field Days in cooperation with the Campaspe Lamb Producers Group, pictured at lamb marking. Left to right: Pat Johnston, Roger Kemp, David Lees, Peter Safstrom, Erica Schelfhorst, Frank Oliver, Max Williams, Bill Johnston, Glen Rathjen, Rod Fiedler, Ged McCormick, Kieran Ransom and Rob Williamson. FAST FACTS • The Elmore Field Days trial ‘Ewes for the Future: Lambs, Wool and Profit’ compared five breeds of ewes for their lifetime production of meat and wool. • The main characters being compared were lambing percentages, lamb growth and wool production. • The final results indicate dual purpose Merinos to be a very profitable sheep system for northern Victoria.
In the Shops - March 2016