LANDMARK stud stock specialist Stephen Chalmers is hoping to use the upcoming Loddon Valley District Stud Merinos Field Day to educate producers on the importance of combining the visual classing of sheep with objective measurements.
“Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) are becoming more and more important as we’ve got a lot of young people coming out of universities and that is all they know, it is hard for them to go out and get practical experience on a big Merino property so they are going to be using figures,” Mr Chalmers said.
“Stud breeders have to be able to show how they can improve traits such as wool cut using figures, but you can’t just breed Merinos on figures, as soon as you take your eye off the ball something will go wrong. I believe if they can understand the visual aspects of classing Merinos plus the ASBVs to go with them, it will make their job a lot easier.”
When classing sheep Mr Chalmers said producers needed to keep in mind the evenness of the line of sheep and avoid any structural issues which may cause management problems such as fleece rot or feet problems.
“ASBV figures to focus on will depend on breeding objectives, for example if producers want to increase wool cut, they need to look at clean fleece weight, while for carcase traits, which are certainly harder to pick visually, they need to look at fat depth and eye muscle area,” he said.
Mr Chalmers will use a hands-on approach with sheep in the yards to explain some of the practical aspects of classing sheep and how people can better understand ASBVs when combined with a visual assessment.
“I really want to encourage more producers to run Merinos, by talking about what types of Merinos are available and what will suit different climates and management strategies,” Mr Chalmers said.
“I am hoping to get the younger generation off their tractors and to seriously think about including sheep in their cropping programs, wool prices are good and surplus Merino sheep are highly sought after for cross breeding operations.
“Last year, many producers grossed over $200 for a 10 month-old Merino wether lamb including their wool cut and carcase while the best young Merino ewes were making over $200 so it is a very profitable enterprise.”
The workshops will be held at the field day on March 2, at 10.30am and 1.30pm.
I am hoping to get the younger generation off their tractors and to seriously think about including sheep in their cropping programs