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Beyond the Bale : Jun - July 08
GenetICS BeyonD the Bale Grant nivison is one of six breeders who took equity in the t13 flock. He and his family run ‘Yalgoo’, a 3333-hectare property near Walcha, nSW, and expect to shear about 15,000 sheep in 2008, in addition to running a Merino stud devoted to producing superfine, high-value fleece. He was invited by CSIRO to take part in the t13 consortium, which involved putting together a flock from ‘Yalgoo’ stock, using ewes with the finest fibre diameter. Home sires from several consortium flocks also participated, including a ‘Yalgoo’ ram. Progeny testing was used to evaluate sire performance, with high-performing rams integrated into the t13 project and made available to all consortium members. the home sires, in turn, helped improve genetic links between t13 flocks. Overall, Mr nivison is pleased with the project outcomes and he found participating in t13 rewarding. He says the adult ewe clip at ‘Yalgoo’ is now averaging 17.0 microns, while younger sheep are averaging 15.1 microns. “At ‘Yalgoo’ we are used to a lot of recording, so using the t13 index was not too involved,” he says. “If you are not used to all the measurements it could be difficult at first. You need to be accurate – that is very important.” ‘Yalgoo’ has been using objective measurements as the main selection tool for 30 years, with the aim of reducing fibre diameter while maintaining fleece weight. However, CSIRO created a custom selection index for t13 which proved similar to the breeding objectives of ‘Yalgoo’. Of critical importance to Mr nivison was maintaining staple strength to ensure that the superfine wool can be processed easily. Indeed, CSIRO’s Dr Jen Smith says the t13 index was changed once, early in the project, to add more emphasis on staple strength at the cost of a small decrease (1.5 per cent) in fleece weight. Initially, Mr nivison found that clients could be sceptical of the breeding objectives and he agrees with Dr Purvis that the involvement of commercial Merino studs lent the project credibility with the industry: “that’s the perception – that it is more credible with the involvement of stud breeders than just those ‘mad scientists’,” he says, laughing. Still, he does admit that it can take a while to see results: “In the third year we started to have some faith in it.” With the consortium now dissolved, Mr nivison is integrating the ‘Yalgoo’ t13 flock into the stud, and rams with t13 genetics are available at the annual ram sale. DownSizinG fiBre Diameter at ‘yalGoo’ Grant nivison, one of the six breeders who bought into the t13 consortium. PHO tO : M Att H eW C A W OOD Because instead of taking your wool to the market, we bring the market to you. AW 02 37 W M CL
Jun - Jul 08 Supplement
Aug - Sep 08