Sire project returns to shed

Daryna ZadvirnaCountryman
Ejanding Stud principal and Dowerin livestock co-ordinator Brett Jones at Muresk Institute in Northam in July.
Camera IconEjanding Stud principal and Dowerin livestock co-ordinator Brett Jones at Muresk Institute in Northam in July. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper

Activities surrounding the Merino Sire Evaluation Project will be bigger and better at this year’s Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days, according to livestock co-ordinator Brett Jones.

In late July, Mr Jones was on site at Muresk Institute’s Northam campus, selecting the 2018-drop progeny that would go on to take pride of place in the Viper Ram Shed.

Part of an Australia-wide initiative, the project aims to evaluate the performance of 12 sires from different WA studs within the environment of Muresk’s grounds, with a selection of their progeny being shorn and shown at field days.

“What we do is join one sire to 50 ewes by artificial insemination at Muresk, and then run their progeny together until the hogget stage, where a random sample is taken and sheared at Dowerin Field Days,” Mr Jones said.

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It will be the third year in a row that the project has found a place in the ram shed, alongside a shearing showcase and a record display of more than 25 Merino and Poll Merino studs.

However, Mr Jones said this year the initiative would be more visible to onlookers, with shearers handling five progeny groups each day.

“There will also be a summation of all the measurements we took from each sire group on their pen cards, including the averages of individual sires, as well as the whole flock,” he said.

In preparation for the day, Mr Jones said the entire drop had been classed, with measurements taken to determine body weight, fat and eye muscle area, not to mention wool quality.

He said producers could learn a great deal by studying the sire project.

“It’s a great way for Merino breeders to benchmark themselves against other industry-leading sheep and studs,” Mr Jones said. “In terms of commercial producers, it’s really interesting for them to see just how much genetics can influence their bottom line. And for the non-farmer folk, it’s always fun to see sheep being sheared well.”

This year, the Viper Ram Shed will include displays from Bayer, Chatfield’s Tree Nursery and the Australian Wool Innovation-funded network, The Sheep’s Back. Dandaragan Mechanical Services will also be demonstrating the latest in sheep handling equipment.

“It’s a cool spot for people to drop in, have a chat and see what’s going on in the industry, because it’s is certainly all-go at present,” Mr Jones said.

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