South Australian Merino sire trial starts its ram hunt

Terry Sim October 24, 2016
SA sire trial supporters, from left, Joe Keynes, Merino SA president Roger Fiebig, Graham Keynes, and Stephen Hill.

SA sire trial supporters, from left, Joe Keynes, Merino SA president Roger Fiebig, Graham Keynes, and Stephen Hill.

SOUTH Australia’s first Merino sire evaluation trial on a commercial property plans to add eating quality of Merino lambs to its trait analysis.

The trial is to be hosted by the Keynes family at Keyneton Station, in the eastern Mount Lofty Ranges, and is supported by Merino SA and SA stud breeders.

South Australian Sheep Industry Blueprint manager and interim site co-ordinator Stephen Lee said the SA trial is now seeking sire nominations. Artificial insemination of ewes will occur in January next year.

He said each ram will have 60 ewes through AI to ensure sufficient ewe progeny for two years of wool trait analysis and allow wether lambs to be analysed for carcase traits.

Mr Lee said there were now 10 Merino sire evaluation sites across Australia run by the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association. This is the first SA Merino sire evaluation trial since 2003 and the first outside the former research institute model.

“We feel that we’ve got a unique set of production circumstances, where we want to have site in South Australia to evaluate genetics that perform best in our environment, for fleece traits, animal type traits and importantly carcase traits as well,” Mr Hill said.

Mr Lee said the possibility of a sire evaluation site was discussed when the SA Sheep Industry Blueprint was launched in April this year.

Trial supporter Joe Keynes said the SA trial wanted to demonstrate South Australia’s dual purpose Merino genetics by benchmarking against sires from other states, while also showing the value of Australian Sheep Breeding Values to select the most productive animals.

Merino SA president Roger Fiebig said South Australia had the best Merino sheep in Australia.

“That’s why we are going to do a sire evaluation, we will demonstrate that,” Mr Keynes said.

Mr Lee said it was hoped to follow the wether lambs produced in the trial into abattoirs to assess their carcase traits and potentially for eating quality as well.

“That’s taking it to the next level.

“That is certainly an addition to the standard sire evaluation.”

Mr Lee already 10 existing Merino sire evaluation sites in Australia supported through AMSEA, but there has never been a SA trial.

“The evaluation will be open to any Merino lambs across Australia and we’ve had considerable interest so we have space for 14 rams plus two link sires.

“Certainly we will be looking to have young animals so we can find the next generation of superior genetics for wool and carcase traits.”

Mr Lee said South Australia now had a higher proportion of the national flock than it has ever had.

“More than 1 in 7 sheep are in South Australia now, so we are growing in importance.”

“and that’s growing,” Mr Fiebig said.

The South Australian site will be an accredited sire evaluation trial run under the rigorous design, recording and data evaluation protocols of AMSEA. Sire results will be reported in Merino Superior Sires, site reports as well as at site field days, newsletters and media.

More information can be found on the Merino Superior Sires website.

Nominations close Monday October 31, 2016 at 5pm. For further information contact site chairman, Roger Fiebig, on 0407 568 786, or Mr Lee 0421 570 630, email [email protected]


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