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Beyond the Bale : Dec - Jan 08
Ram breeders and woolgrowers have no excuse for lagging behind in the profitability stakes when there are tools available to make major genetic gains and increase margins, according to Malcolm Peake who manages 'Bogo Merinos' at Bookham on the NSW southern tablelands. The latest Merino Bloodlines: the Comparisons analysis, covering the 10 years from 1996 to 2006, was compiled by the Merino Breeding Group within the NSW Department of Primary Industries, and is now available for use. Mr Peake says the real benefit of the analysis is that it allows ram breeders and commercial producers to benchmark their own sheep, identify productive bloodlines and select superior animals. "In our own enterprise, we used the early analysis to compare bloodlines and make an appropriate change," Mr Peake says. "Since then, we have been meeting our breeding objective of reducing fibre diameter and increasing fleece weight, and in the latest analysis our gross margin per DSE is 15.6 per cent above the average." Mr Peake manages a flock of 2500 Merino ewes and 1000 stud ewes for Andrew and Frances Elsegood on the 1300-hectare 'Bogo Merinos' property. In the past five years the enterprise has achieved an average micron of 18.5, with adult sheep and hoggets cutting an average of six kg/head. 'Bogo Merinos' has encouraged clients to participate in wether trials because they demonstrate overall bloodline results, rather than results for an individual flock. Some clients have made changes to their production aims from using the analysis and seeing the results of participating in wether trials. "Wether trials are the only true means of benchmarking the genetics of a bloodline because all the environmental influences are removed and the differences in bloodline performance represent the true genetic differences," Mr 16 GENETICS BEYOND THE BALE Bloodline analysis helps build profitability The new Merino Bloodlines lets woolgrowers and ram breeders benchmark their sheep, identify productive bloodlines and select superior animals Peake says. "From one wether trial to the next they can see an improvement by tracking their performances and gains. Growers can identify a bloodline that will help them to meet their breeding objectives faster. "It is then simply a matter of targeting individual animals from that bloodline that have the necessary traits." By identifying superior genetics, even small improvements in fibre diameter reduction and fleece weight can be achieved, which then leads to big increases in income and profit from across the flock. Mr Peake believes rapid genetic gain, and therefore an increase in profitability, can be made at very little or no cost, considering ram prices today and the marginal price differences between the top 20 per cent and bottom 20 per cent studs. "Genetic gain is more or less a free ride -- just let the sheep do the work -- and I think all woolgrowers should be using genetic tools to increase profitability. Selecting even an average ram from a superior bloodline can significantly improve a producer's bottom line." 'Bogo Merinos' is using the latest bloodline analysis to reinforce its breeding objectives and confirm that the current emphasis on traits, such as fibre diameter and fleece weight, is generating profit. They use a combination of tools, the bloodlines analysis as well as Sheep Genetics where 'Bogo Merinos' receives across-flock and within-flock values that enable benchmarking of performance against other studs while monitoring their own performance. "Profit is certainly one of the key decision drivers when it comes to determining a breeding objective," Mr Peake says. "Sheep that are heavy-cutting and finer will still trend towards being the most profitable, regardless of what the wool market is doing. That's what we're aiming for, and the results are flowing through to client flocks." ú More information: www.merinobloodlines.com.au Five steps to maximising profitability There are five steps commercial wool producers can take in order to maximise their profitability and make the best use of Merino Bloodlines: the Comparisons: 1Set a long-term breeding objective 2Benchmark your current bloodline performance against other bloodlines 3Consider all traits, even though some will be dominant 4Consider performance and future progress of the bloodlines that are of interest 5Consider practical constraints of a bloodline, such as price, availability and location Ram source analysis updated Woolgrowers and ram breeders can now access the latest analysis of many major Merino bloodlines across Australia to more readily identify the most suitable and profitable bloodlines and ram source.The latest Merino Bloodlines: the Comparisons analysis covers the 10 years from 1996 to 2006 and was compiled by the Merino Breeding Group within the NSW Department of Primary Industries. The analysis shows there are substantial differences in profitability between bloodlines, with a range of 22 per cent above average gross margin to 15 per cent below the average return being recorded. The Merino Breeding Group's Sally Martin says the bloodline data was sourced from 63 wether and ewe productivity trials. "These trials have been run for an average of three years, ensuring a high accuracy in the data collected," Mrs Martin says. "And in an industry first, we have been able to use ewe trial data to make comparisons." In NSW, there were 21 wether trials conducted which contributed to the analysis. "There are 74 extra bloodlines being compared than in the previous analysis from 1994 to 2004, which offers growers and breeders a wide choice of genetics to achieve their long-term breeding objective." The head of AWI's sheep technologies program, Geoff Lindon, says the analysis provides producers with information on important determinants of profitability. "With the 'environmental factors' removed from the analysis, producers are looking at the genetic potential of these bloodlines," Mr Lindon says. The analysis provides details on bloodlines for a range of traits, such as clean fleece weight and fibre diameter... "Producers can combine this information, along with Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) from Sheep Genetics and Sire Evaluation to choose a ram source that suits their breeding objectives and gives a good indication of their profitability potential." Commercial producers are able to compare bloodlines for gross margin per dry sheep equivalent (DSE) and graphs are provided to demonstrate bloodline performance for three different selling seasons. The analysis provides details on bloodlines for a range of traits, such as clean fleece weight and fibre diameter, with bloodlines able to be benchmarked against average values for these two traits.The analysis contains a list of bloodlines with low accuracy and thus their data remains unpublished. However, these bloodlines can be contacted directly for the relevant information. Producers can visit www.merinobloodlines.com.au for all the latest information on the 1996 to 2006 comparison and information on how to use the comparison to more easily identify the bloodlines that match their own breeding objectives. ú More information: www.merinobloodlines.com.au Malcolm Peake, manager of NSW's 'Bogo Merinos'. PHOTO: ANGUS McGEOCH
Oct 07 - Nov 07
Feb - Mar 08 Supplement