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Thursday, 27 April 2017 11:26

Fly free breeches

Producers breeding sheep free of body wrinkle and with a bare breech are tapping into lucrative markets for non-mulesed wool.


A wrinkle free area around the breech combined with a bare area around the tail makes non-mulesing an easy step to take, according to NSW stud Merino breeder Chad Taylor.
Taylor, of Wellington NSW, ceased mulesing his Merino sheep in 2006, opening the doors to markets for non-mulesed wool offering premiums of 50c-$1/kg.
“If we are not breeding wool right around the tail of the sheep then there is less chance of catching the dag and urine streams which makes quite simple to stop mulesing,’’ he says.
Chad Taylor relies on feedback on dag scores in sire evaluation trials to fine tune body and breech wrinkle on his Mumblebone stud rams.
He says Australia was losing significant market share to other countries marketing non-mulesed wool.
“Given there is a demand for unmulesed wool, we want to be in a position to supply that demand by breeding sheep free of wrinkle and with a bare breech, eliminating the need for mulesing,’’ he says.
“We can then tap into these more lucrative markets with premiums of up to 50 cents to $1 a kilogram.
 “We are heading towards a branded non-mulesed product and this type of sheep will facilitate that as more clients are in a position to stop mulesing and see the benefits of breeding sheep that don’t need to be mulesed.’’
A Mumblebone ram has emerged in the New England Sire Evaluation Association’s trial as a trait leader for reduced breech cover, low breech wrinkle and dag, and low body wrinkle.
The ram, Mumblebone 13-0389, also ranked as a leader in clean and greasy fleece weight, fibre diameter coefficient of variation, staple length, eye muscle depth, bodyweight and a low percentage of culls at classing.
In the recently released results, the ram was a trait leader in the Dual Purpose Plus Index, which focuses on maintaining fibre diameter and staple strength coupled with increased body weight and carcass traits.
The ram was also a leader in the Wool Production Plus Index, which places selection emphasis on increased fleece weight while maintaining fibre diameter.
The trial is run at Armidale under the Merino Lifetime Productivity Project with the aim of increasing the understanding of the genetic capacity for the Merino ewe to deliver high quality wool, lambs and meat throughout its life.
The 14 Merino sires in the project are joined to 90 ewes each with the female progeny carried through for four to five joinings and annual shearings to collect measured and visual data.
Chad Taylor says Mumblebone 13-0389 combined handy growth figures with stylish white wool and high worm resistance.
“He is producing a very white wool and it stood up to the high rainfall conditions in the New England,’’ he says.
“He has a lot to offer the industry.’’
Taylor says genetic gain was not achieved simply by selecting ribbon winners out of the show ring.
“Sire evaluations are a great way of measuring a sire’s true genetic merit, under the same environmental factors, right away from artificial feeding,’’ he says.
“By having rams entered in sire evaluation trials around the country, we can measure those genetics against other leading sires, in vastly different environmental conditions.’’
Mumblebone stud will stage a field day on September 19 featuring industry speakers, Russ Davis, Ceva Animal Health, Mark Ferguson, New Zealand Merino Company, Jenni Turner, Fox & Lillie, and Hannah Marriott, Nuffield scholar.
“They will be covering a lot of sheep science topics from semen quality, reproduction, carcass traits, six monthly shearing, and making data collection commercially available,’’ Taylor says.

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