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Beyond the Bale : June 2017
Described as one of the largest and longest Merino projects in the country, the Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) project recently opened its doors to industry at three of its five sites. The MerinoLink (Temora, NSW), Elders Balmoral (Harrow, Vic) and Pingelly (WA) sites held annual field days that showcased the F1 ewe progeny, involved industry presentations, and provided demonstrations of the latest in sheep handling and data collection technologies. Field days are a highlight of the sire evaluation MERINO LIFETIME PRODUCTIVITY PROJECT UPDATE calendar providing an opportunity for existing and potential sheep and wool producers to compare firsthand the progeny of sires entered at the sites. Sires selected at MLP sites are carefully chosen to be industry representative in that they reflect the main industry sheep types, breeding directions and breeding methodologies. The range in types entered creates an opportunity to closely explore the drivers of lifetime productivity as ewe progeny are shorn, classed and joined throughout life. It is expected that the diverse types being FAST FACTS • The AWI-funded Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) project is an $11 million (including $4 million of support from project partners),10-year partnership between AWI, the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA), nominating stud Merino breeders and site hosts. • The project aims to increase the understanding of the genetics, and economic interactions, of a diverse range of Merino types delivering high quality wool, lambs and meat through life. • The MLP project runs at five sites where sire evaluation trials operate for the first two years and then continue tracking performance of ewe progeny as they proceed through four to five joinings and annual shearings. • A full suite of independent visual classing and productivity traits will be assessed. examined in the trial will offer a learning outcome for just about every sheep and wool business imaginable using the Merino ewe as the base. Initial project results will be most relevant when examined at an individual site basis. As the MLP project moves past the standard sire evaluation phase, the results from the project will develop into more general decision support information with the goal of delivering greater lifetime productivity and profitability for commercial wool/ meat producers. MerinoLink hosted 75 attendees at their mid- March field day at Temora, NSW, with the crowd made up of commercial breeders, ram breeders and industry service providers. The well grown 9-month old ewe progeny from the 13 diverse industry sires showed a range in performance for many attributes. The latest in DNA collection technology, sheep handling and data collection technology was also displayed, all of which is being utilised by the MLP project to generate the valuable dataset. In Western Australia, the Pingelly site welcomed a strong crowd of 60 attendees to inspect their first drop of ewes from 15 sires. Brett Jones, the chair of the site, pronounced their inaugural field day a great success: “We had a great mix of people attending the day with breeders using a range of selection approaches represented. The sheep looked 2017 MerinoLink field day, ‘The Vale’, Temora. 36 ON FARM