Trigger Vale - accuracy personified

Trigger Vale - accuracy personified

Sheep Breeders Compendium News
DUAL PUPOSE: Andrew and Mandi Boufflers, Trigger Vale Merino stud's 2020 sale rams at weaning in September 2019.

DUAL PUPOSE: Andrew and Mandi Boufflers, Trigger Vale Merino stud's 2020 sale rams at weaning in September 2019.

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Depth of information and breeding values are paramount for Andrew and Mandi Bouffler.

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What people see today in the sheep from Lockhart-based Trigger Vale Poll Merino stud, has its roots in more than 70 years of breeding.

The modern swing to poll Merinos and dual-purpose Merinos is nothing new for the current stud principals, Andrew and Mandi Bouffler.

The NSW stud runs a Poll Merino and a White Suffolk stud. Mr Bouffler's great grandfather was responsible for uncovering the polled animals in the flock and breeding them to establish the polled flock.

"I don't think we've ever had a horned sheep on the place," Mr Bouffler said.

He said this long history along "with the depth and accuracy of our full pedigrees is the foundation that today's unique product is built on".

Currently the stud comprises 1400 stud Merino ewes, of which 1000 are fully pedigreed "stud specials".

There is also a flock of 300 fully pedigreed objectively measured White Suffolk stud ewes.

"For a long time we have been doing the 'hard yards' to obtain fully pedigreed and objectively measured animals," he said.

"It's our point of difference and the depth of information and breeding values are exceptional. There is no easy way of getting that full pedigree and breeding information - it takes many generations.

"When you have a full pedigree going back 20 generations, there is so much power in that level of accuracy in the Sheep Breeding Values that are generated."

Mr Bouffler said there was never any surprises in what their genetics produced - "they do what is expected".

"The joy in our accuracy is that our commercial buyers can come and select sheep for whatever traits they want to shift - whether that be to a mules-free flock, or a poll flock or to add some maternal traits like growth, fat and muscle, they can come here and know they can take them home and they will deliver," he said.

"It's a grass roots revolution with commercial people leading. We see a stark move by the next generation of under 30 year old's wanting accurate ASBVs and a more balanced Merino with equal weighting with the traditional wool traits - but also maternal traits like fat, growth and carcase," he said.

"We haven't mulesed for more than 10 years and we have had no ongoing issues. We've had some of the best EBVs for breach wrinkle in the country.

"The younger generation don't want to be chasing flies - it's all about labour efficiency.

"It's an easy-care animal that's good for lifestyle and also good financially - easy care sheep are low cost sheep to run."

Mr Bouffler said genetics introduced from outside were selected on data quality and accuracy with breeding values that can "take us forward in the areas we are targeting in our breeding objective".

"We pride ourselves on being innovative. We are now starting to put more weight on eating quality traits in our breeding objective," he said.

"When we say we're dual purpose we take it very seriously - it's not just a slogan."

The stud has conducted an MLA Fast Track genomics trial to collect phenotypic data on hard to measure meat eating quality traits like shear force and intramuscular fat. Another area receiving more weighting was lamb survival and number of lambs weaned.

Mr Bouffler said that with a move to shearing every six months, staple length was also an area looked at to raise wool cuts. The aim is to lift staple length from the current 65mm in six months to 70mm.

Mr Bouffler said their clientele was now national and international, while 20 years ago they basically came from within a 100 kilometres of Lockhart.

Trigger Vale sells around 300 to 350 poll Merino rams annually, up around 150 in the past 10 years, and about 200 White Suffolks. Sales were to a mix of Merino, stand-alone White Suffolk clients and clients that purchased from both breeds.

He said the White Suffolks were introduced initially to provide a one-stop shop for existing Merino clients, with the added bonus of sourcing all the rams you need from a seed stock supplier with high biosecurity standards.

He said the key emphasis with the White Suffolk flock was to retain the traits that made the breed unique - low birth-weight and smooth front shoulders maximizing lambing ease.

"Our White Suffolks achieve below average birth-weights and above average growth; we also concentrate on type. With the majority of the White Suffolks being used over Merino ewes we want rams with clean points and easy lambing," he said.

Mr Bouffler said they were still hopeful of having our normal large crowd attend their on- property sale on September 4.

"Even if restricted to 50 people we believe the sale will run successfully with AuctionsPlus and an increased number of inspection days prior to sale day," he said.

"We think with all the work we have done over the years to provide accurate information and ASBVs, it provided clients with a lot more detailed catalogue if they have to buy remotely."

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