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Beyond the Bale : April May 2009
April – May 2009 Beyond the Bale Donna and Roger Polkinghorne of ‘Charinga Merino Stud’, near St Arnaud in northwest Victoria. Measurement is crucial to continual improvement in their breeding lines. Genetics 17 PHOtO: BRAD cOLLis their wool cut, also improving the co-efficient variation of fibre to remove the prickle factor. “We now need to maintain wool cut on plain-bodied sheep with good fibre alignment,” Roger says. “if it cuts 10kg, that’s enough. We don’t want to push it to 15kg and affect lambing percentages. We need to keep the sheep balanced to reproduce and thrive.” GenetiC CoMPARiSon webSiteS 1 Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders, www.merinos.com.au l Genetic comparisons l Sheep shows l Wether trials l Ewe trials l Objective measurement l Performance classes 2 Merino Bloodline Performance, www.merinobloodlines.com.au l Wether trials 3 Merino Superior Sires, www.merinosuperiorsires.com.au l Sire evaluation results 4 MERINOSELECT, www.sheepgenetics.org.au/merinoselect l Reports l Search l How to use websearch Geoff Davidson is co-principal of the ‘Moorundie Park Poll Merino stud’, running 4,000 stud ewes north of clare, south Australia. His aim is to increase client profitability through improving fertility, worm resistance, growth rate and quality wool production. “As more young breeders come in and have tertiary education exposure, demand for breeding values will increase,” Geoff says. “it’s a natural evolution that more breeding values will be used. i am working to a breeding objective and gathering more information on my flock, especially on fertility, bodyweight, micron, fleece weight, muscle and worm resistance – though i’m not using an index at this stage. “i think it’s vital to recognise that client profit is the key driver for breeders. the industry has become very commercially focused, and we need to keep this in mind when producing the seedstock sought by our clients.” Geoff says his breeding goals of the past 15 to 20 years – lowering micron and improving growth rate in lambs – have been widened over the past four years, with a bid to increase eye muscle measurement and worm resistance. eye muscle measurement is used in selection for his own sires, with the benefits passed on to clients. Geoff’s goals are to maintain fibre density on a plainer sheep and increase early growth rate, which is becoming increasingly important. “Prime lamb breeders want big, plain ewes to buy, as people want big, plain-bodied hoggets in a sale,” he says. “When producers cull ewes, plain-looking sheep make $30 to $40 more in the offshear market than smaller sheep. Most producers also aim to sell wether lambs for meat and this type of sheep is very suited to this. “they also want growth rate on lambs before they cut their teeth. A lot of sheep in the past have grown well into one-and-a-half to two years, but we don’t need that now.” centre Plus Merinos is a sheep- breeding and marketing company based in tullamore, nsW, with 18 commercial Merino producer members who run a combined 20,000 ewes joined to rams bred from the group’s nucleus breeding program. the group grew out of founding member Robert Mortimer’s desire to fasttrack the identification and implementation of the most profitable stud ram genetics. they sell 300 rams each year – with 90 going to group members – and 5,000 doses of semen each year. centre Plus grades its rams on index and Robert says they have seen a correlation between price and better rams, highlighting the industry’s adoption of figures. centre Plus Merinos has always concentrated on breeding dual-purpose
February March 2009
June August 2009