Yardstick Merino hoggets and latest sheep tech on show next week

Sheep Central October 21, 2022

WA sheep producers have been urged to save the date for this year’s annual Yardstick Merino benchmarking field day at DPIRD’s Katanning Research Station.

WESTERN Australian sheep producers will see the latest hoggets in the long-running Yardstick benchmarking initiative and get updates on livestock research advances at a field day next week.

The annual field day will be held on October 27 at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Katanning Research Station, co-hosted with the Federation of Performance Sheep Breeders of Western Australia.

The field day will also feature an update on research that used sensors on sheep to help predict lambing dates to improve progeny performance and a discussion on how DEXA carcase evaluation technology can help boost productivity and profitability.

Twelve Merino rams are currently participating in the national project, comprising 10 contributions from WA studs and two sires linked to 10 participating sites across Australia.

DPIRD research scientist John Paul Collins said the objective measurements and visual classing data had been collected during the life of the hoggets across a range of wool, growth and easy care traits.

“The data was collected from 450 lambs, which have been recently classed and had mid-side wool samples analysed,” he said.

“More than 30 measurements have been taken from each hogget, including weight, eye muscle and fat depth, wool measurements and scoring for a range of easy care and conformation traits, while we will collect fleece weights at shearing in late October.

“Visitors to the field day will be able to scrutinise this data, which includes mid-side wool tests and visual classing data taken for each sire group.”

The measurements are incorporated into the Yardstick data set, used to produce Adjusted Sire Means and Flock Breeding Values to assist producers selecting animals to achieve their breeding objective.

Mr Collins said further information would be incorporated into the data set after the hoggets were shorn, including a range of traits scored off-shears like body wrinkle.

“The 2022 growing season has been average at Katanning, which has received nearly 300 millimetres of growing season rainfall,” he said.

“The hoggets were in excellent condition when they were presented to the classer for pre-shearing classing so some heavy fleece weights are anticipated.”

The measurement data will be sent to the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association and updated on the Merino Superior Sires website.

The Yardstick field day will be held at DPIRD’s Katanning Research Station on Thursday, 27 October from 1-4pm. For more information and to register for catering purposes contact Dale Sutton on 9821 3333 or [email protected].

Source – DPIRD.


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