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Beyond the Bale : April May 2009
18 Genetics April – May 2009 Beyond the Bale has long-stapled, deep-crimping wool and can perform in different environments. centre Plus sells 5,000 doses of semen each year, and Robert says clients select semen to produce fertile dams that can be mated to Merino and terminal sires. there have also been more enquiries for semen from bare breech and plain-bodied lines. Geoff Davidson says most of his clients will buy semen from rams that have proven themselves in his flock, with a preference for plainer-bodied sheep. “Different areas of Australia require slightly different sheep. However, the key profit drivers remain the same and breeders must remain focused on these. “the focus on wool has also moved Robert Mortimer of Centre Plus Merinos, tullamore, nSw, says customers are more and more looking to genetics to reach production goals. from fineness to comfort, and consumers are demanding more comfortable wool that can be worn against the skin.” the three breeders agree that animals and Robert comments that inquiry for this type has increased. Among centre Plus’s range of genetic projects is one aimed at breeding a barebreech Merino. Robert reveals they have identified a group of ewes with a bare channel from under the tail through to the udder, as well as others that are bare inside the back legs. “it will take some time to pull these common genes together, but once done we will be able to rapidly multiply them into the greater population,” Robert says. “scoring the animals will help us find productive wool cutters that are bare. With really bare-breech ones, we don’t know where breeding for that animal will take you in production traits. “now we’ve scored them, we can immediately start choosing sires for bare breech. Once you have data and can see positive trends, you can put the accelerator down. With the work we’ve done so far, there is a feeling you may lose fleece weight, but at the end of the day, we’ll find highly productive sheep as bare as you want.” Robert says there is a premium for surplus ewes in the lamb industry, which is looking for fertile dams to mate to terminal sires. “People are willing to pay more to get more productive animals.” the same client demand for dual- purpose rams, with an eye on phasing out mulesing, is repeated in semen sales. the Polkinghornes sell up to 10,000 doses of semen each year and Roger believes, in addition to pedigree and depth of breeding, his clients are seeking a type that is structurally sound, early maturing, A measure of comfort Sheep CRC program leader David Tester unveils the Comfort Project, a key focus of the Wool Quality Program, which has already produced a revolutionary instrument to measure garment ‘comfort’ According to program leader David Tester, the name of the game in the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation’s (Sheep CRC) Wool Quality Program is to increase the value and volume of Australian wool sales by tackling key next-to-skin comfort issues. There is even a dedicated Comfort Project. “The Comfort Project aims to develop and commercialise practical fabric measurement technology and related know-how, to enable the production and marketing of wool garments that meet next-to-skin performance criteria,” David says. The project’s latest milestone is the creation of an instrument that can successfully measure next-to-skin comfort – the Skin Comfort Meter. The instrument works by mimicking the interaction between the fabric and the skin surface. The number of stiff fibre ends pushing against the ‘skin’ is effectively counted. To be absolutely certain of commercial producers are likely to remain with a stud if they can see it is moving in the right direction and responding to commercial demands. those that change breeding goals and genetics frequently will miss the long-term benefits. “i do a lot of judging in commercial ewe competitions, and the good flocks are run by people that set clear goals and follow them through,” Roger says. the next edition of Beyond the Bale will feature comments from fine-wool breeders. More information: Centre Plus, 02 6892 8259, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.centreplus.com.au; ‘Charinga’, 03 5496 5223, email@example.com, www.charinga.com.au; ‘Moorundie Park’, 08 8662 6269, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.sheepgenetics.org.au/merinoselect the meter’s accuracy, the data was also validated through wearer trials using the same fabrics. “Our confidence in the measurement technology continues to grow as we measure more fabrics and conduct more wearer trials. The results to date have been very exciting,” David says. “The wearer trials and the instrument results are highly correlated and the data is suggesting that individual fibres as fine as 26 micron may be responsible for poor skin comfort with some garments.” Objective and subjective data was extracted during specially designed interviews in a range of environmental conditions. Wearers were questioned on various comfort aspects of the garment worn, while being taken through a variety
February March 2009
June August 2009