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Beyond the Bale : Aug 07 - Sep 07 Supplement
By Melissa Marino While Merino Superior Sires (MSS) deals with rams, the Merino Bloodlines Package turns its sights to wether trials, identifying bloodlines to satisfy a range of commercial woolgrowers' breeding objectives, including returning the highest profits. Analysing wether trial data gathered over a 10- year period to 2004, the package compares many commonly used Merino bloodlines to identify performance differences and subsequently the best ram source for specific breeding outcomes. An updated package of data from 1996 to 2006 is due for release later in 2007. The wether trials and on-farm comparisons being run across Australia aim to reveal the genetic performance of bloodlines in wool production, wool quality and profitability. AWI and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) have been funding trial sites to collect additional data, such as staple length and strength, worm-egg counts, meat characteristics and staple profile. To qualify for inclusion in the bloodline analysis wethers must have been bred from the same bloodline for at least five years. Accuracy ratings are given according to the number of sheep that have contributed to the results. The analysis takes out all environmental factors between trials and years, leaving only the genetic variation between the bloodlines. By referring to the publication Merino Bloodline Performance, woolgrowers can then easily compare the different bloodlines' strengths and weaknesses and assess the benefits and financial returns. Fleece weight, fibre diameter, wool quality traits and body weights were measured as part of the 2004 analysis of 166 bloodlines. Of those, the 71 bloodlines deemed to have medium to high accuracy were featured with detailed performance ratings on factors including clean fleece weight, fibre diameter and body weight. Each of those bloodlines is also presented with a gross margin per dry sheep equivalent (DSE), based on average eastern Australian wool market values and calculated according to the economic values of all traits, including wool quality. Using the tables featured in the package, commercial woolgrowers can then quickly and easily identify the performance of certain bloodlines in relation to particular traits, including their gross margins of profit. NSW DPI Merino Bloodline Performance project leader Sally Martin says the analysis shows substantial differences in bloodline profitability based on production. "The difference between the top 20 per cent bloodlines and the bottom 20 per cent was more than $5 per head per year," she says. The Merino Bloodlines Package can be found online at www.merinobloodlines.com.au. Hard copies can be obtained by phoning the NSW DPI bookshop on 1800 028 374. The 1996--2006 analysis will be available in August 2007. ú More information: Sally Martin, 02 6382 1077, firstname.lastname@example.org; BANKING ON MERINO BLOODLINES 10 years' information from wether trials compares many commonly used Merino bloodlines to identify performance differences CHOOSING A BLOODLINE SOURCE The following five steps in conjunction with the latest Merino bloodline results will assist commercial woolgrowers to identify a ram source that will increase profitability: 1. Set your flock breeding objective Long-term breeding objectives will most commonly be met by three important traits: fleece weight, fibre diameter and body weight. Set objectives according to production targets and/ or an economic statement. 2. Benchmark performance Use data in Merino Bloodline Performance to compare your current bloodline's performance with other bloodlines and to your flock breeding objective. Identify other bloodlines that match your objective. 3. Consider all traits While fleece weight, fibre diameter and body weight will dominate most breeding objectives, other traits will affect your choice of bloodlines. Therefore your flock's long-term breeding objective for all traits should be considered. 4. Performance progress There is a five to 10-year lag between the bloodline's current performance and the already published results, so consult representatives of the bloodlines you are considering to discuss their own performance monitoring system and likely rate of progress. 5. Constraints If several bloodlines have a similar rank based on the main traits in your breeding objective, then constraints (most often centred on ram price and availability) will often decide the selection of a ram source and must be considered. BLOODLINES An example of visual trait guidelines, as will be outlined in the new booklet. BREEDING FOR PROFIT SUPPLEMENT BEYOND THE BALE 7 version of the Visual Breech Scores guide released to industry by AWI in May 2006. A prototype of the guide was developed with advice from SGA, AMSEA and the AWI Merino Consultative Group. It was then road-tested with a cross- section of stud and commercial sheep classers, advisers, breed associations and individual breeders. The traits focus on: ú conformation -- jaw, shoulder/back, feet/legs, face cover, body/neck wrinkle; ú wool quality -- fleece rot, colour, crimp/character, staple weathering, dust penetration, staple structure and pigmentation; and ú breech -- revised scores for breech cover, crutch cover, breech wrinkle and dag. "Following the release of the Visual Assessment Scores to industry, and following collection and submission of sufficient amounts of good-quality data to SGA, it is anticipated that ASBVs will be routinely available for these traits from mid-2008," Dr Fischer says. ú More information: the Visual Assessment Scores guide, printed on waterproof paper, will be available from late August by contacting the AWI Helpline, 1800 070 099 Score 1 Score 2 Score 3 Score 4 Score 5 FACE COVER
Oct 07 - Nov 07
Aug 07 - Sep 07