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Beyond the Bale : December 2010
17 December 2010 BEYOND THE BALE ON-FARM The findings do not surprise Victorian consultant Graham Lean who says the findings are confirmed with his own client benchmarking work and the local Farm Monitor Project. Dr Lean says there are three simple reasons why Merinos often stack up as a superior sheep enterprise. 1. Merino ewes are smaller, meaning more can be run per hectare. Therefore, more lambs are produced per hectare, which although smaller, still results in meat production per hectare only slightly behind specialist prime lamb breeds. 2. Replacement ewes for prime lamb enterprises are often more expensive in real terms. 3. Wool income is greater with the Merino. Adding to this is the upside for wool prices is currently greater than the upside for lamb prices. "Demand is certainly driving the market for wool now and some of the record prices in US dollar terms are a direct reflection of that but couple this with the low supply throughout the pipeline and strong retail demand and it points to a further upswing for wool." Dr Lean is also keen to stress that it is a classic case of horses for courses as while many areas may well suit Merinos there are others where dedicated prime lamb breeds were more suitable simply because it is too wet. Therefore he urges people to let climate and geography help determine their flock makeup. The critical question many Merino producers are asking this year is "do I join more ewes to the Merino to boost flock numbers or cross to the terminal sire and boost prime lamb income?" It is obvious that, as the wool price improves, the Merino becomes significantly more competitive. However Dr Lean stresses that many producers have seen the enormous gains in Merino east, dry to wet productivity through Lifetime Ewe Management (see page 24), by increasing weaning weights and weaning rates. "With these extra numbers of sheep through greater fertility and production, you can both increase the number of Merino ewes joined to Merinos to boost the flock as well as joining ewes to terminal sires for prime lamb production. Done correctly you achieve the best of both worlds." Either way, the importance of maximising fertility and lamb survival are obvious. More information: Bob Hall, (08) 9736 1055, firstname.lastname@example.org Dr Graham Lean, (03) 5571 2170, email@example.com www.evergraze.com.au/SouthernVIC/ latest-results.htm Consultant Dr Graham Lean from Victoria: "Demand is certainly driving the market for wool now."