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Beyond the Bale : September 2017
AWI has published a new 20-page booklet that provides a summary of a wide range of industry tools available for woolgrowers to help achieve their breeding goals, along with the strengths of each approach, and what is needed to incorporate these approaches into a commercial or ram breeding situation. Topics covered are sheep shows, wether trials, flock ewe competitions, Merino Sire Evaluation (and the Merino Lifetime Productivity project), MERINOSELECT, Visual Sheep Scores, RamSelect, workshops, sheep classers and advisors, and saleyards. The booklet provides an ideal introduction for new entrants to the industry; late secondary school, university and TAFE students; as well as other woolgrowers who would like a recap on all the tools now available. MORE INFORMATION Download the booklet from www.wool.com/publications or request a free hard copy from the AWI Helpline on 1800 070 099. MERINOS IN A CLASS OF THEIR OWN AWI runs hands-on sheep classing workshops across the country to help woolgrowers in their sheep selection and breeding programs and increase the productivity of their Merinos. AWI regularly runs one-day sheep classing workshops, for people of all ages and enterprises, that are a practical way to learn about increasing the production of their Merino flocks. Through a combination of theory and hands- on components, experienced sheep classers lead the workshop and take commercial producers through the process of classing sheep, including understanding the type of sheep that breeders are aiming for, comparing individual traits between sheep, and other sources of information. AWI’s sheep industry specialist, Stuart Hodgson, is a highly experienced sheep classer and former Merino stud stock agent, who has been running sheep classing workshops for AWI for the past two years. “The aim of the workshops is to help woolgrowers become better and more confident when classing their sheep,” Stuart said. “The workshops are open to anyone in the industry, but it is especially useful for younger people in the industry to get some hands-on, practical advice. “During the day, we look at visually assessing the sheep and identifying the good and bad traits, and identifying those sheep that should be retained or culled to best meet a breeding objective. It’s important that woolgrowers have a balance in their breeding program though and not focus too much on one trait. “There are many tools now in the industry to help woolgrowers; while objective assessment is useful, we also need people to be able to do hands-on assessments. AWI’s sheep industry specialist Stuart Hodgson (back left) with students from St Stanislaus’ College, Bathurst, at a sheep classing workshop held in May. "By using the tools available, woolgrowers can produce an animal that meets their business requirements. These animals need to be productive and profitable for their environmental conditions and able to compete with alternative enterprises.” The workshops also provide participants with the opportunity to talk to other sheep producers about their breeding objectives, and compare each other’s thoughts on the sheep they are examining at the workshop. MORE INFORMATION AWI last year issued a workshop package on Merino visual classing. It covers the principles of visual classing (including practical activities in the yards), flock objectives and selection for a ‘type’ to suit the environment, and the importance of balance between visual and objective assessments. A 91-page PDF of the workshop presentation is available from www.wool.com/workshop-resources SHEEP SELECTION TOOLS BOOKLET LAUNCHED Participants at a sheep classing workshop at Julian and Annabel von Bibra’s ‘Beaufront’ property at Ross in Tasmania, hosted by the Stud Merino Breeders Association of Tasmania and run by AWI’s sheep industry specialist Stuart Hodgson. PHOTO: Karolin MacGregor/Newspix 36 ON FARM
In the Shops - September 2017