Merino wether trial results in

The results are in for the Monaro Farming Systems (MFS) Merino genetic comparison trial initiated last year at "Knockalong", Tombong.

The trial aimed to reinvigorate objective measurement of several bloodlines across the Monaro and Yass regions.

Twenty-four teams delivered 15 wethers per team to "Knockalong" and they have now been running as one mob for the last 12 months. The teams include seven from the Yass, Bookham, Crookwell region, and 17 teams originating from the Nimmitabel, Bombala, Jindabyne, Cooma, Bungarby, Berridale and Jerangle regions with a total of 19 bloodlines being represented.

The sheep were yarded and drafted a month ago for mid-side sampling in preparation for the first shearing.

MFS member Alan McGufficke is managing the trial and emphasised that "many of the participating teams in this trial have also participated in trials across the state giving strong linkages to the National Genetic Evaluation Systems".

With the current market values experienced in the wool and sheep industry, it is more important than ever for a profitable farm business to have a clear understanding of where their commercial flock is positioned in genetically in relation to the industry benchmark.

The first shearing for the MFS Merino Genetic Comparison trial took place at "Knockalong" on October 16. The trial aims to assist producers in the Merino breeding industry to make more informed decisions about their genetics and to show the entrants in the trial and the wider sheep industry the genetic opportunities that exist.

The first year results have already started to demonstrate, under equivalent commercial conditions, the variation in the relative productivity of Merino sheep flocks for economically important characteristics such as fleece weight, fibre diameter and body weight and the difference in gross margin per dry sheep equivalent (GM/DSE).

In terms of wool value ranking, the difference between the top team (Av. $76.77 / hd) and the bottom team (Av. $50.28 / hd) was $26.49 against an average of $64.09.

The top five teams ranked by Gross Margin per dry sheep equivalent (DSE) included; Greendale (Greendale S*), Bellevue (Bobingah S*), Tallawong Pastoral (Tallawong S*), Mayfield Partnership (Greendale*) and Gaerloch (Gaerloch*).

In terms of gross margin per DSE ranking, the difference between the top team ($68.12) and the bottom team ($32.97) was $35.15 against an average of $59.60.

Each team was also visually assessed and given a score for fleece rot and an average per team for body wrinkle score.

Average market prices for the 12 months (October 2011 - October 2012) were used to value all fleeces, pieces etc.

Fleeces were valued within their bin lines (AAAM, BBB etc) on the basis of the average micron and discounts applied according to the tested length, strength and observed colour. This method avoids the issue of single fleeces of being valued at elevated levels even though they could not be sold this way in reality. The net result is a valuation for the team which is very like the result that would occur in the commercial shearing shed. All wethers were weighed and fat scored at the time of even up shearing as well as at mid side sampling. Fleece free body weights were calculated by subtracting the total wool weight of each sheep from this body weight at mid side sampling. DSE rating was calculated by adding the energy required to maintain the average weight of the animal throughout the year and the energy required for the average rate of gain in weight throughout the year using published relationships (SCA 1990). This DSE rating was used to determine the expected gross margin per DSE. Gross Margin was calculated by subtracting a constant $14.82 variable costs per head from the average gross wool value of the team.

This trial will be run over three years, with two more years of data to be taken into account. MFS will ensure the local rural community are kept well informed of the results of the trial and the potential opportunities it may highlight.

MFS project officer Nancy Spoljaric said MFS were grateful for the work done by Doug Alcock and Phil Graham (NSW Department of Primary Industries ) for their measurement of data and collation and presentation of results.

"Our sponsors for the trial were Gordon Litchfield Wool and Jemalong Wool," Ms Spoljaric said.

"MFS thanks its members for supporting the trial, especially Alan McGufficke, Oli Cay, Stephen and Lionel Platts and John Murdoch, and Rowan Wright for hosting the trial and his outstanding management of the trial wethers during the year."

For further information please contact Alan McGufficke on 0429 448 078 or MFS project officer Nancy Spoljaric on 0438 066 322.

The averages across the 24 teams:

-Greasy Wool Weight = 5.5kg

-Clean Wool Weight = 4.0kg

-Shorn Body Weight = 48.3kg

-Micron = 16.8

-Schlum. Yield = 74.2

-Clean Price = 1672 c/kg

-Average Wool Value = $64.09 (per head)

-Gross Margin / DSE = $59.60

-Fleece Rot Score (visually assessed) = 1.03

*the italics in brackets denotes the bloodline and S identifies enterprises selling rams for commercial purposes.

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