Merinos the key to growth: MLA

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The sheep of the future will produce 150 per cent lambing, setting up offspring to grow at more than 500 grams a day, which will convert to lean meat yield while also maintaining wool as an integral component, according to Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) Alex Ball.

Dr Ball said producers needed to gear up for a steady growth in lamb exports as indicated by the 7 per cent increase in shipped weight.

“It starts with recognising Merino ewes as the key to meeting the market,” he said.

Merino ewes account for 74 per cent of Australia’s sheep breeding population.

He said producers who embraced technology would be well placed to lift fertility by 2 per cent a year, adding 0.6kg a day in growth weight towards lean meat yield.

“Lambing ease, reduced worm egg count and carcase quality will be the must haves,” he said.

Dr Ball said producers needed to “get serious” about meat and shift to an earlier focus on growth.

“The combination of increased muscling and minimal intramuscular fat will improve eating quality,” he said. “Consumers will continually demand juicy, tender meat as their preferred choice.”

Dr Ball said producers would soon be able to work off new meat trait indicators when choosing a breed or a potential sire to influence their lamb production.

He recommended that all sheep producers start to invest in the technology and easier care sheep to create better time management practices.

“Successful producers will need to run larger numbers with more mechanisation, because extra labour will be non-existent,” he said.

Dr Ball said that as the price of lamb continued to rise, so too would the costs of compliance.

“The sheep industry will need to be internationally compliant with world welfare practices and capable of maintaining world resource utilisation targets,” Dr Ball said.

He said the Australian sheep industry was well on its way to leading international supply of sheepmeat.

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