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Tools aplenty for Merinos

11 July 2019

Merino producers have more help than ever to lift profitability of their flock, while improving animal health and welfare outcomes.

MLA Sheep Genetics Senior Development Officer Peta Bradley said Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) allow producers to simultaneously select for key production traits such as fleece weight, carcase characteristics and number of lambs weaned, while putting pressure on breech cover and/or breech wrinkle and other health traits such as worm egg count.

“It’s important that commercial ram buyers identify seedstock breeders who are recording in MERINOSELECT and selecting for traits they have identified in their breeding objective,” she said.

Peta said there are industry indexes in MERINOSELECT that commercial breeders can use to make a balanced selection of animals. It is important that commercial producers use the index that best suits their production system.

“An index combines many traits and helps breeders rank animals so they can draft out the top picks. These top picks can then be researched further by looking at individual ASBVs and by visual appraisal on sale day,” Peta said.

“The benefits of buying rams of higher genetic merit is multiplied at each joining in a self‑replacing flock, as the daughters of rams with high genetic merit are retained and bred from in the flock, compounding the benefit over time.”