Making More from Sheep Australian Wool Innovation Limited Meat & Livestock Australia
Making More from Sheep

Making More From Sheep

1. News:

Lambplan index 2020

Australia’s lamb producers now have access to a new breeding index and specialist website that can help them improve the genetic progress of their flock with desirable traits such as parasite resistance, increased muscle and optimal birth weight. 

The new LAMBPLAN Lamb 2020 index is highly suited to producers supplying 20-24 kg carcase weight lambs, especially Merinos but also cross-breds. Lamb producers interested in the Lamb 2020 index are encouraged to develop their understanding of LAMBPLAN and consult their ram breeders to determine the best sire selection for their individual operation. Also recently launched was the revamped Sheep Genetics website – www.sheepgenetics.org.au – which can assist sheep producers continue to improve their genetic progress.  

Bare Breech Breeding

Also on breeding, research into sheep with an enlarged naturally bare and wrinkle-free area around their breech is being conducted at two research centres, one in WA (winter dominant rainfall) and one in NSW (summer dominant rainfall). Early results indicate significant potential to reduce breech wrinkle, increase natural bare area, and enhance resistance to breech blowfly strike. On-going research is looking at whether bareness traits are expressed to the same degree in all genetic groupings and varying environments, how many genes affect the trait and how they are inherited, and precisely what correlations exist with the production and quality traits that impact on Merino profitability. There are also a growing number of commercial and seedstock producers in Australia who have made excellent progress in this area. For more information on the Breeding for Breech Strike Resistance Project, please view R & D Breech wrinkle on the sheep genetics website.

Coloured Fibre Carriers

The Agouti gene is responsible for many different pigmentation patterns in Merinos and causes considerable cost to the industry. A new DNA test has been developed to identify carriers of the gene with industry interest in commercialisalion currently being canvassed. Breeders are being encouraged to have input into the commercialisation plan by filing in a confidential questionaire developed by AWI and MLA over the next two weeks. The survey only takes ten minutes or so and can be accesses by clicking here. 

2. R & D Update:

Summer / Autumn Ewe Management Critical for a Good Lambing and Lifetime Performance

Research conducted in wool producing regions across five states in southern Australian by the lifetimewool project has shown that managing Merino ewes to the different ewe condition score profiles can change ewe health and survival, ewe wool production and staple strength, ewe reproduction, lamb birth weight and survival, progeny fleece weight and progeny fibre diameter. In particular, the studies have shown lifetime impacts on progeny wool production due to changes in ewe nutrition during pregnancy. 

Recent evaluation of participating sheep producers in the RIST Lifetime Ewe Management course run in Victoria and based on lifetimewool guidelines has also shown that producers have been able to lift lambing percentages by 15%, reduce ewe mortality by 44%, while at the same time increasing stocking rate by 14%. 

For the full article on ewe management by Dr Ralph Behrendt of the Department of Primary Industries Victoria, click here

3. In Brief:

Ground cover

One mm of top soil lost by erosion equals about ten tonnes of soil per hectare. This soil can take thousands of years to replace. Maintaining groundcover appropriate to rainfall and slope is essential to prevent erosion, minimise water loss and protect soil organisms. See Procedure 6.2 in the Making More From Sheep manual for details on adequate groundcover levels.

Joining Tips

Avoid joining ewes within two weeks off shears as the stress of shearing can disrupt cycling activity for a fortnight.
If ewes are being supplemented during joining, make sure rams are accoustomed to the same supplementation as the ewes to avoid rumen acidosis. See Procedure 10.1 in the manual for mopre joining tips.

4. Coming Events

Over 3000 sheep producers have now attended events on various Making More From Sheep Modules. The events may be small workshops, large seminars or webinars (a seminar that you attend on your computer and phone without leaving home). The one thing these events all have in common is that after participating you will be able to implement at least one of the management practices or tools from the Making More From Sheep manual on your property. Examples of coming events include: 
- Lice, flies and worms half day workshop, Darkan, WA, 4th March 
- West Wimmera Lamb Production Fieldday , Nhill, Vic, 10th March
- Lice, flies and worms half-day workshop, Nyngan, NSW, 11th March
 
See the Events Page on the website for more details.

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