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Easy lessons to boost flock size

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman
Ejanding stud principal Brett Jones and Department of Agriculture and Food sheep development officer Meghan Cornelius.
Camera IconEjanding stud principal Brett Jones and Department of Agriculture and Food sheep development officer Meghan Cornelius. Credit: Bob Garnant

The message from the Sheep Easy Field Day was that the best way to increase WA’s sheep numbers was to simplify how the State’s farmers approach sheep production.

Sheep Easy chairwoman and Frankland producer Alex Coole welcomed 200 visitors to a full day of seminars, held at the Northam Muresk campus, that were intended to create less work and more money for sheep producers.

“An event like this, sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation, is critical to educate farmers with the latest technology and innovation, which in turn will gain more participation in sheep production,” she said.

Ms Coole and her family had adopted such strategies into their own sheep production as a necessity in order to run 44,000 sheep during peak times.

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“With the use of Australian Sheep Breeding Values and other technologies, we have been able to fine-tune our 12,500 breeding ewe flock, reducing the workload and making sheep production a more enjoyable working environment,” she said.

Testifying to the benefits of using ASBVs, Ejanding stud principal Brett Jones spoke about the improved accuracy in progeny performance by selecting rams based on the Merino Select formulations.

“By sourcing semen from rams that had progeny evaluated, the resulting progeny from those sire selections were more accurate and predictable in line with expectations,” he said.

“Using ASBVs for selection criteria, we are now able to collect information about an animal before it is born with pregnancy scanning and parentage data.

“Visual assessment is still critical and must complement the ASBVs.

“In a nutshell, ASBVs are a more accurate way to predict genetic performance both within our flock and between our flock and others.”

Currently six Ejanding rams are listed in the top 50 sires ranked by Australia’s DP index.

“Our ram-buying clients are now targeting traits in a more accurate and transparent fashion,” Mr Jones said.

Department of Agriculture and Food WA sheep development officer Meghan Cornelius provided an exercise for delegates that demonstrated the variability and inconsistencies of using only visual assessment and highlighting the important role ASBVs play in ram selection and breeding.

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