05 Mar BENCHMARKING MERINO GENETIC PROFITABILITY
Australia’s largest commercial evaluation of merino genetics is about to begin in New South Wales. The Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge 2016-2018 will commence at Wagga Wagga in early April 2016 with up to 60 teams of 30 wethers.
Merino Challenge convener, Craig Wilson, said the aim of the Challenge is to demonstrate the relative productivity of a merino flock for economically important traits under equivalent conditions.
“The information and data analysis produced will show entrants and the wider sheep industry the financial gains that exist through high performance merino genetics,” Mr Wilson said.
“Entry to the Merino Challenge is free and is open to any commercial breeders who are running self replacing merino types. We have received entries from Western Australia and Tasmania for the up-coming Challenge and places are still available,” said Mr Wilson.
“Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the performance of your merino genetics is a vital tool to gauge potential profitability.”
A recent analysis of two teams entered in the previous three Merino Challenge’s has shown a repeated variation of profitability between the two teams of 60%. This can equate to $150/ha in net profit due to the influence of genetics.
Late last year, Craig Wilson presented at the GRDC Update in Wagga Wagga where he clearly demonstrated how sheep can be incorporated into cropping systems.
“The key is to know the genetic capacity of the sheep you own. It will cost you dearly if the sheep you manage don’t match the system of production,” Mr Wilson said.
“It is almost impossible to accurately know this genetic capacity without the kind of benchmarking that the PWMMC offers.”
Each team of 30 wethers will be randomly split into two groups of 15 wethers and allocated into the Meat Challenge and the Wool Challenge. The Meat Challenge wethers will be fed a full commercial feedlot ration supplied by Conqueror Mills and processed at Fletchers International abattoir at Dubbo. The Wool Challenge wethers will be run over two years at a property outside of Wagga Wagga and assessed for wool performance each year.
“The previous PWMMC has shown the range in net profit from feeding merino lambs for meat and or to grow wool can be doubled by using high performance merino genetics. The challenge has proven beyond doubt what a merino sheep can achieve, combining excellent growth and carcass traits with high wool cuts which have low fibre diameter” Mr Wilson said.
Over the last twelve years, Merino Challenge Convenor Craig Wilson has collected benchmarking data on more than 4,500 wethers run in trials at Wagga Wagga, Alectown, Warren, Narrandera, Taralga and Temora.
“The huge bank of data built up over the past 12 years allows new entrants to the PWMMC a chance to benchmark their flocks genetics against up to 300 teams in previous trials.”
The Challenge honours the late Peter Westblade, a true visionary, epitomising compassion and devotion to a cause who passed away in late 2008, the Challenge is supported by Zoetis, Moses & Son Woolbrokers, Sally Martin Consulting, Rabobank, NSW DPI, Sheep CRC, Riverina Wool Testers, Australian Wool Innovation, Meat and Livestock Australia, Fletchers International, Conqueror Milling and ProWay.
For more information and entry details contact Craig Wilson on 0428 250 982.
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