Trials see 10,000 Merinos evaluated

Craig Wilson runs Australia's largest Merino evaluation trial

Sheep
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Wagga Wagga consultant is passionate about mentoring the next generation of producers

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NATIONWIDE ADVICE: Craig Wilson and Associates managing director, Craig Wilson, provides advice to sheep and wool producers across Australia.

NATIONWIDE ADVICE: Craig Wilson and Associates managing director, Craig Wilson, provides advice to sheep and wool producers across Australia.

The head of the NSW company that runs the biggest evaluation of commercial Merino genetics in Australia has seen more than 10,000 sheep benchmarked since 2004.

Craig Wilson and Associates managing director, Craig Wilson, said his Wagga Wagga, NSW-based business provided technical advice and a Merino genetic consultancy to clients across Australia.

He said the evaluation trials were the largest comparison of commercial Merino genetics in Australia.

The program now had more than 300 businesses with teams of sheep entered.

"The trials are unique, in that they measure both the wool and meat traits and are able to clearly define the strengths and weaknesses of entrant's flock genetics," he said.

Mr Wilson, a finalist in the Marcus Oldham Flock Leader awards, said trials had been run at Collingullie, Parkes, Goulburn, Temora, Warren, Narrandera and Wagga Wagga.

"These benchmarking trials allow entrants to clearly define the strengths and weaknesses of their flocks genetics," he said.

"The information is presented in raw form and calculated in net return per head and per hectare.

"Entrants that have been benchmarked and gone away to make changes then re-enter sheep to measure the impact on their genetics."

The trials are overseen by the NSW Department of Primary Industries and all information is made available to the public - and in the Merino Bloodline Performance publication.

"This information is vital in assisting commercial merino breeders make informed decisions on their choice of Merino bloodline," Mr Wilson said.

His company also has more than 10,000 sheep under management, and has initiated share farming agreements with five properties.

The company is responsible for the management, marketing and decision-making.

In November 2019, Craig Wilson and Associates bought Kentish Downs Poll Dorset Stud, Holbrook, NSW.

Mr Wilson said the aim of the purchase was to supply production-driven terminal genetics to clients across Australia.

He said he was thrilled to be involved in the Meat & Livestock Australia Consulting Internship program.

"This is a wonderful way to teach the next generation," he said.

"In my role as a genetic consultant, I travel about 85,000 km across Australia each year, assisting clients make great decisions about their genetics.

"This exposure to different environments, and the effect on the phenotype of sheep, stands me in good stead to offer balanced advice.

"I have always prided myself on using quality objective data to compliment those things that are not easily measured in sheep breeding. "

Mr Wilson said as a way of honoring the late Peter Westblade, his company had initiated the Peter Westblade Scholarship.

The scholarship provides mentoring and financial assistance to men and women, aged 18-30, who had a passion for the industry.

Mr Wilson said he had been blessed by some great mentors and would like to pass-on his skills and knowledge to the next generation.

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