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Beyond the Bale : April May 2009
16 Genetics purpose sheep Dual- With the phase-out of mulesing, a growing demand for dualpurpose Merinos and extended dry seasons, some stud breeders are reassessing their conventional breeding programs reshape stuDs By Stephen Cooke sheep Breeding Values (AsBVs) and MeRinOseLect data in their search for genetics that will produce good wool and, just as importantly, a maternal ewe that will produce early-maturing lambs. the move to phase out mulesing has n also led more woolgrowers to investigate non-mulesing options, including a clear focus on the breeding of low-wrinkle and bare breeches. no wrinkle around the breech area eliminates the moisture necessary for flies to breed larvae that cause flystrike, and most stud breeders have now accommodated these requirements in their breeding program the common view is that plainer sheep result in lighter-cutting sheep. AWi’s head of sheep technologies Geoff Lindon says that while this generalisation is true, research shows that there are high-cutting plain sheep, low-cutting plain sheep, high-cutting wrinkly sheep and low cutting wrinkly sheep. “Fifteen years ago, there was a common view that finer-micron sheep could not be heavy cutting,” Mr Lindon says. “the industr has since proven, through astute selection, that this association can be broken, and research shows that the industry can do the same with wrinkle and fleece weights. “even in mulesed animals, lower-wrinkle sheep have less breech flystrike.” ew-generation woolgrowers are paying more attention to Australian Roger and Donna Polkinghorne own three Merino studs – ‘charinga’, ‘Banavie’ and ‘Gowandale’ – running 6,000 registered ewes in st Arnaud and Marnoo, in central Victoria. “i have the opinion that we do need an alternative to mulesing, but we also need to keep sheep productive,” Roger says. “the industry needs ewes that cut at least eight kilograms of wool and anything with a bare breech needs to meet that benchmark.” South Australian grower Geoff Davidson. Roger says there have been more inquiries for plain-bodied rams and he has begun breeding this type as well as his more traditional rams. However, such interest has not yet translated into more sales of plainbodied rams, as some producers are still wary of the impact plainer rams will have on the amount of wool cut. in the past 20 years, the Polkinghornes have dropped their micron and maintained April – May 2009 Beyond the Bale
February March 2009
June August 2009