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Profit focus at GRASS Merinos 40th anniversary field day

Sheep Central, April 2, 2015
GRASS Merinos founders in 1981, from left, Graham Peart, Andy O'Brien and Greg O'Brien.

GRASS Merinos founders in 1981, from left, Graham Peart, Andy O’Brien and Greg O’Brien.

Sheep handling for profit will be the focus of the GRASS Merinos 40th anniversary field day at Armatree NSW on April 14.

Four leading sheep breeders will lead a Farmers Forum at the ‘Year of the Sheep’ field day at the ‘Sunnyside’ woolshed at Arnatree.

They include Twynam Cunningham from Cranbrook, WA; Jack Brennan, Warren, NSW; Megan Rogers, Forbes, NSW, and; Ray Haigh, Trangie, NSW.

Speakers on yard design, electronic tags and apps

GRASS Merino founder and field day chairman Graham Peart said there will also be presentations on sheep yard design, electronic tags for sheep (EID) and smartphone apps.

Sheep CRC industry engagement and training co-ordinator Lu Hogan will speak on better decision-making using EID for sheep and Rayner Ag principal Alastair Rayner will outline the apps and social media options available to help farmers. Atlex Stockyards owner Ian Crafter will speak on ‘Sheep Sense – How to think like a sheep and design the right set of yards for you.’

GRASS Merinos measures 500 rams annually

Mr Peart said GRASS Merinos was sets up as a group breeding scheme 40 years ago after looking at schemes in WA and New Zealand.

“GRASS Merinos involved ten farmers owning 35,000 ewes who wanted to run more profitable Merinos .

“They felt the traditional Merino studs were set in their ways and and making very little genetic progress,” he said.

“They wanted to increase wool cuts, reduce micron a little, increase fertility, increase growth rates, reduce wrinkle and make them easy care.

“Most of these factors have good heritability,” Mr Peart said.

He said 500 young rams are measured for a large range of characteristics each year.

“The computer then ranks them from 1-500 on index.

“The top three rams are progeny tested to find the final star performer.”

Mr Peart said this ram then goes into a national central progeny test to rank him against the best in Australia.

“Grass now has a ram ranked number 18 on index.”

Mr Peart said GRASS Merino sheep were about 40 percent more profitable in terms of gross margin per hectare than average district sheep.

“This is a great reason to celebrate 40 years of slow patient co-operation by a group of determined commercial wool growers.”

The field days starts at 9.30am with registration and morning tea, and finishes at 5pm.

Sources: Sheep Connect NSW and GRASS Merinos.

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