Great Sheep Breed Great Data - Jason Southwell - August 2018

Jason Southwell - Calga Uardry & DD Studmaster

 

The ram selling game is now more competitive than ever with every breeder trying to cash in on both record wool and lamb prices. To succeed seed stock producers, need to see themselves as breeders of sheep that take advantage of markets rather than breeders of a specific breed based on hype or tradition.

As mentioned in the 2017 newsletter we have made a conscious decision across the Calga, Uardry and DD studs to select animals on heritable traits that drive profit. Those traits being:

1. Superior constitution and doing ability

2. High early growth rates

3. High Wool cuts

4. High Fertility

The above four traits are of the upmost importance for the modern sheep producer to maximise profits.

History has shown at Calga that the type of sheep that possess a visually strong constitution along with doing ability have ASBV's with higher growth rates, cut more wool and have more lambs.

Our lambs are reaching target weights earlier which is of great importance to commercial lamb producers. The importance of lambs reaching market weights earlier is of obvious benefit especially in poor seasons. It is also expected that the fertility in our maiden ewes will increase as joining weights are reached much sooner.

We are continuing to push the fleece weight envelope for the Dohne Merino breed however our strict selection criteria ensure that any animals that preference wool at the expense of constitution, doing ability, growth or fertility have no place at Calga.

A rigorous process of individually recording ewe fertility is annually undertaken to ensure low fertility ewes are removed from the stud. Scanning results are recorded, all lambs are DNA tested to ensure accurate parentage and ewes are wet and dried at lamb marking.

The addition of the DD Stud has further increased our stud numbers and has broadened our genetic base. Numbers allow for greater selection. Each ewe is classed annually to ensure she is "true to type" and for the first time this year any ewe that had a Dohne + index of under 130% was culled from the stud. We will aim to increase this threshold by 5% each year.

The recent analysis of the 2017 progeny from all three studs has vindicated our selection process and fully demonstrates where our genetics sit in comparison to other Dohne Merino studs.

Currently, a 2013 drop Calga Sire CA 13 -6525 is the number one ranked sire in Australia with an impressive Dohne + index of 214.6%. A number that has not been seen before. (See table 1) Calga and Uardry genetics also dominate the rankings on index of the 2017 progeny with the top ranked ram CA 17 - 4015 indexing at 211%.

Table 1:  CA 13 6525

 

WWT

PWWT

PEMD

CFW

NLW

Dohne +

CA 13 6525

11.1

13.7

1.4

25.2

11

214.6

Percentiles

Top Value

Top Value

Top 20%

Top 1%

Top 5%

Top Value

In what we believe is an Australian first, a ram will be offered for sale at the annual Calga Production Sale with Dohne + index of over 200%. The ram CA 17 - 3594 will be offered as Lot 1 with an outstanding index of 205% with the overall sale average 168.9%. (See table 2)

Table 2: 2018 Calga Production Sale ASBV's

 

WWT

PWWT

PEMD

CFW

NLW

Dohne +

Calga Sale

5.7

7.5

0.6

11.1

8.5

168.9

Percentiles

Top 5%

Top 5%

Top 50%

Top 20%

Top 10%

Top 10%

Breed Av

3.4

3.9

0.6

6.3

3

142.8

The take home message is simple, focus on a sheep type that focuses on profit and remember that Great sheep breed great data, but great data does not necessarily breed great sheep.

 

 

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