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Beyond the Bale : Jun - Jul 08 Supplement
mulesed. Any stud sheep that would have needed mulesing were culled. Mr Kellock admits flystrike resistance is not just about having a plain-bodied animal. He says they must be robust, with good ‘do-ability’, and woolgrowers must use good animal husbandry. “White wools also seem to help an animal resist blowfly-strike – both body and breech. “Tail docking at lamb marking needs to be investigated,” he says. “Trials have been carried out, varying tail length, and examining an art of pushing bare skin back to allow more skin on the tail and less wool, leaving a nice rounded, bare tail on the butt and sides. “Ewe lambs need their tails docked level with the tip of their vulva. This, along with wool growing on the tail, appears to keep vulva cancer to a minimum.” Mr Kellock, who is the AWI representative on the Merino consultative group on sheep genetics, 8 Beyond the BALe roAd to 010 SuPPLeMent genetICs david Kellock of ‘Kelvale Poll Merinos’, South Australia, with his non-mulesed Merino rams. Guide to speedy breeding progress By Geoff Lindon, AWI 1 Have a clear, market-driven breeding direction. 2 Buy rams from a stud with a similar breeding direction. 3 Benchmark the progress of your stud and sires purchased. Buy rams that are bred and selected in a similar environment. 5 Better selection decisions are made on well-managed animals. At stud level, pedigree information is, and will always be, important. 7 If a trait is important enough to be in your index, it is best to measure it directly, don’t rely on correlations with other traits (staple strength, fertility). 8 Get the balance right between traits; don’t chase fads. 9 new breeding tools (ASBVs) are creating a new generation of curve-bending sires (that is, between micron and fleece weight, body weight and lambs weaned, and body wrinkle and fleece weight). 10 Plain sheep tend to cut less greasy wool, but are more profitable (fertility, growth, condition, carcase value). 11 Polls have a welfare advantage over horns. 1 Select for fast-growing, moderate adult-sized animals. 1 don’t select animals too young. 1 celebrate those who are good at reading the tea leaves: variation is the source of all progress, check out what others are doing. 15 Keep connected to the customers. says there is plenty of genetic data available to help woolgrowers seeking to develop a non-mulesed flock: “Many studs work hard to have current data available and growers should make the most of that in sire selection. “We see the commercial application for accurate ASBV data is relevant, not only to move the sheep industry forward, but also for the selection processes for mating,” he says. “Most woolgrowers, if they were to take a hard look at their flocks, would find they possibly already have the type of animal they desire in there, and that’s a strong starting point. It just depends how radical you want to go as to how quickly you get to where you want to be.” ú with 70 to 72 per cent yield, 72 to 77 millimetre fibre length in seven months, 48 to 52 Newtons per kilotex (Nkt) strength and, in 2007, 435 ewe hoggets averaged a fleece weight of 3.96 kilograms of skirted wool from seven months’ growth. The stud’s long-term aim is to shear twice a year, with an average fleece weight of 5kg a head per shearing, while maintaining 100 per cent plus lambing rates. The Kellocks started to scale back mulesing in 2005. Each ram lamb was assessed in the lamb marking cradle and culling took place at this point. These rams were sold to clients in a range of environments and Mr Kellock says they had no negative feedback. “No one ever said those rams suffered any particular problems with flystrike and that inspired us to go further the following year,” he says. By 2007, mulesing was almost phased out, with only 30 per cent of commercial flock lambs Photo: KeLLIe PenFoLd
Apr - May 08
Jun - July 08