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Wool Stocktake : AWI Annual Report 2017-18
The Merino Lifetime Productivity field day at Pingelly in WA in March included a description of the sires’ progeny. A mammoth 50 pens of ewes were on display at the 2018 Balmoral Merino Lifetime Productivity field day in February. and objective classing, the value of fat and muscle, the number of sires and ewes that improve or decline in productivity as they get older and the current advice from geneticists that at least one adult age fleece assessment and full lambing records are required to optimise gain. • The first lambing of the 2015 drop F1 ewes by AI sires occurred at Balmoral. This represents just 2% of the lambing records to be collected in the ten- year project. Another 45 such lambings are planned to collect 25,000 lambing records from 5,500 F1 ewes. • AWI continues its efforts to have the MLP progeny records used within MERINOSELECT and to make the MLP results broadly accessible. • A series of ‘Add On’ projects using the F1 ewes and wethers are taking place. They include ‘Improving Foetal Aging’, ‘Assessing Resilience and Ewe Survival’, ‘Adult Wether Productivity’, ‘Improving Feed Efficiency Assessments and Per Ha Analysis of MLP Results’, ‘Comparison of Classing Within and Across Sire Progeny Groups’ and ‘Wether Carcass and Eating Quality’ (MLA funded). LOWER COST AI WITH FROZEN RAM SEMEN • Cervical AI using frozen/thawed semen has conception rates of around 20% compared to laprascopic rates of 70%, but it is a cheaper, less invasive option if the conceptions rate can be lifted and made comparable to laparoscopic AI. A five- year project in collaboration with NSW Stud Merino Breeders remains on track with several proteins identified with potential to improve ram sperm capacitation post freezing/thawing to allow it to better move through the tight ewe cervix. The final report is due late 2018. SEXED SEMEN • A project with the University of Sydney, Michelle Humphries of Livestock Breeding Services and Wurrook Merino Stud is testing improved techniques and outcomes from sexing fresh (non-frozen) ram semen. Pregnancy testing results in June 2017 show the sexed semen results are only slightly lower than normal unsexed semen. Lambing is due in August 2018 to determine the accuracy of the sexing process (for female progeny) with results around 90% female progeny expected. • While sexed semen will have a niche market, it could offer ram breeders the option of a more rapid change in breeding direction or increase in breeding ewe numbers. ELMORE EWE TRIAL – COMPARISON OF EWE BLOODLINE FOR PRODUCING PRIME LAMBS • From 2010 to 2014 five ewe bloodlines, each comprising ewes from three commercial clients, were assessed for their profitability to produce White Suffolk prime lambs. The 5 bloodlines were $uperBorder$ Group Border Leicester X Merino; SAMM; Dohne; Loddon Valley Merino; Centre Plus Merino. • Results of the trial have been updated using wool and lamb prices over three, 8-year time spans. o 1994-95 to 2001-02 "low lamb prices" o 2002-03 to 2009-10 "drought" o 2010-11 to 2017-18 "recent years" • The results (see below) show that the Merino dams (Centre Plus and Loddon Valley Merino) followed by the Dohnes were the top performers across most time points, irrespective of the 3 market and season scenarios. REPORT OF 2017/18 OPERATIONS – SHEEP PRODUCTION 33 Gross Margin $/Ha, Elmore, Victoria 1994-95 to 2001-02 Rank 2002-03 to 2009-10 Rank 2010-11 to 2017-18 Rank Super Borders x Merino 211 4 148 4 352 5 SAMM 200 5 154 3 372 4 Dohne 219 3 135 5 378 3 Loddon Merino 242 2 160 2 400 2 Centre Plus 298 1 191 1 418 1 Ave$/Ha 234 158 384
AWI Annual Report 2016-17