Whilst science and technology is being embraced with open arms in most cropping enterprises the uptake of science and technology in the Merino industry is often not supported, and therefore has a relatively low adoption rate.

But for merino genetic consultant Craig Wilson, using the latest in technology and science forms a strong viewpoint. “Breeders of merino sheep have some powerful information at their fingertips to assist their own theories and compliment their skills in breeding. Australian Sheep Breeding Values, Genomics, Merino Challenges and Sire Evaluations are all examples of quality independent tools that are able to be used.”

The Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge 2012-2014 is Australia’s largest commercial evaluation of merino genetics, it is designed to facilitate the genetic benchmarking of the traits affecting fleece and carcass values.

The current Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge (PWMMC) 2012-2014 is hosted at the Temora Agricultural Innovation Centre and is home to 60 teams of 15 wethers sourced from commercial flocks from South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales.

“Some of the Merino industry’s largest breeders and most influential bloodlines are represented in the Challenge which will identify the range in performance for wool and meat over two years”, Mr Wilson said.

“We are certainly building a large bulk of data across a range of environments, 5,800 sheep have been evaluated at Wagga Wagga, Alectown, Taralga, Warren and now Temora, a highlight of this current challenge is the diversity in bloodline and location of the entrants” Mr Wilson said.

The PWWMC commenced in April 2012, when 30 wethers were submitted to the challenge. Based on equal weight allocation 15 wethers were allocated to the Meat Challenge and the other 15 wethers to the Wool Challenge.

The meat component of the Challenge, now complete, identifies that strains of Merino sheep have significantly better (28%) growth rates at the same age under the same nutritional opportunities. A comprehensive report has been produced where meat traits have been measured and analysed for the 60 different teams.

Marty Moses, Moses and Son Woolbrokers and Sally Martin, Sally Martin Consulting play integral roles in the PWMMC and without their assistance in co-ordination and data management a trial of this magnitude would be impossible.

”The data and information generated from the PWMMC is applicable to the whole of the Merino industry, not just the entrants. The wethers in the challenge are a window to how your ewe flock is performing. Previous experiences show high performance genetics have the capacity to double the net income generated from a merino business” Mrs Martin said.

“Results over the years I have been involved in the genetic benchmarking conducted by Craig Wilson, have consistently shown that the best Merino genetics consistently deliver very high profit margins for both wool and meat. The high performance team’s show that merino wool enterprises can often outperform other land uses in terms of net profit per hectare, with a significantly lower production risk” Mr Moses said.

The PWMMC pays tribute to the late Peter Westblade who was a passionate and successful poll merino breeder from Lockhart in NSW.

The first shearing of the PWMMC 2012-14 will take place on April 4-5 at the Temora Agricultural Innovation Centre and is open to the public.

The great work in merino genetic promotion that Peter Westblade undertook will be honoured at a dinner on the 4th April featuring the announcement of the second Peter Westblade Scholarship recipient.

Feature demonstrations and displays on precision sheep management from Allflex, Gallagher, Peak Hill Industries, Proway, Sapien Technologies, Coopers, Zoetis and Trutest will also be on-site.

Major support for the PWMMC is coming from Australian Wool Innovation, Bluechip Livestock, Moses and Son and Sally Martin Consulting.

If you are interested in attending please RSVP to Moses and Son and 02 69773100 for catering purposes.


For more information contact : Craig Wilson 0428 250982

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