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ARTICLES >> Livestock Articles

Innovation Corner - Sheep Measurement at Etiwanda

Posted by Bestprac on Jun 15 2009

By Sally Ware, NSW DPI

Andrew and Megan Mosely believe it is very important to have an objective measurement of the genetic performance of their sheep

Andrew and Megan Mosely established their White Dorper stud "Etiwanda" at Cobar in 1999, after looking for an alternative sheep breed that better suited their environment, is low input, profitable and suited the family's goal. Etiwanda was the first White Dorper stud in the Western Division and continued to be one of the first White Dorper studs in the Eastern states to use Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) as a tool for animal selection. Andrew and Megan believe it is very important to have an objective measurement of the genetic performance of their sheep to ensure that they are breeding toward their breeding objective and providing clients with animals that will be productive and profitable. ASBVs provide information on traits that cannot be assessed visually and give you an indication of an animals genetic breeding ability.

Their breeding objective is to produce an animal with a medium frame, which is well muscled, structurally sound, highly fertile, high shedding and which has an excellent constitution with well balanced ASBVs. Keeping balance in mind they also look for rams with good post weaning weights. This enables the Mosely's ram client's to be able to produce commercial lambs that meet market specifications by 7 months under paddock conditions. They are keeping an eye on fat levels and aiming for a high eye muscle depth, which relates to carcase yield (and therefore profitability).

"We have discovered there are certain boundaries we must stay within to stay on target for our breeding objective." "It takes an extreme amount of discipline to stay within these boundaries," Andrew said, "but the results are worth it."

Data recorded for each lamb are sire and dam, number of lambs in birth, sex of lamb, ease of lambing, weaning weight, post weaning weight, eye muscle and fat depth and scrotal circumference on the rams. Scrotal circumference is an important trait as it directly correlates to that rams daughter's fertility and also to the serving capacity of the ram himself.

Stud lambing at Etiwanda is carried out in small paddocks (10-40 ha). The Mosely's drive through the lambing paddocks morning and afternoon and immediately tag all new born lambs and manually record the lamb's tag number and the ewe's tag number. They know the sire of each lamb as they undertake single sire joining. They record if the lamb is a twin or single, male or female and the lambing ease. Lambs are not weighed for birth weight as it is just not practical time wise with such a large number of lambs. The lambs are marked, weighed and vaccinated with 5-1 at 8 weeks. At 12 weeks they receive their booster vaccination, they are weighed for weaning weight and weaned. At 7 months, both ewe and ram lambs are returned to the yards for LAMBPLAN scanning. Registered LAMBPLAN scanners from Advance Livestock Services in Hamilton, Victoria, scan the Etiwanda stock. The cost is $4/head including travelling. Most Etiwanda rams! are sold before they are 12 months old but rams kept for our stud have their yearling weight recorded at 12 months.

Once all the data is collected, the Mosely's submit it by email to Sheep Genetics in Armidale. Sheep Genetics charges a $300 fee plus a per head cost to process the data. The ASBVs are returned via e-mail and are downloaded into the Mosely's animal management software "STOCKBOOK". In the future, the Mosely's will start using electronic ear tags, a reading wand and a palm pilot for paddock and yard recording. These techniques would save time and improve the recording accuracy.

The Mosely's have recently trademarked a logo called 'Rangeland Ready' which means the Etiwanda sheep are unpampered, rangeland born & reared, hardy and ready to work.

Contact (02) 6837 3797 ah, visit the Website

www.etiwanda.com.au

or email

etiwanda@bigpond.com

Last changed: Feb 16 2012

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