Moses & Son are pleased to announce that we have joined the Merino Lifetime Productivity Project under MerinoLink Management. Our farm on the outskirts of Temora has been selected as one of the sites and we look forward to embarking on the project for the next seven years.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA) have teamed up to deliver the Merino Lifetime Productivity Project (MLP). The project offers a unique and exciting opportunity to evaluate lifetime Merino productivity including the trade-off between lamb and wool production, how to best select for lifetime productivity and the role that genetics plays in generating lifetime returns.

Four independent sites located across Australia will be involved in collecting and recording this data. The sites will operate like standard sire evaluation sites – following the rigorous and independently assessed measured and visual assessment protocols. In total 120 sires will be joined to 90 ewes each to generate the 3,600 F1 ewe progeny that will form the basis of the project. At the conclusion of the standard sire evaluation (generally once progeny are between 18 to 24 months of age), AWI will support the ongoing measurement and visual classing of all F1 ewe progeny through 4-5 joinings (capturing reproduction records) and annual shearings.

The sites involved in the project will be located in diverse environments and vary in sheep type, lambing dates, seasonal challenges and shearing dates. The first site “Elders Balmoral” at Harrow, Vic, joined in 2015 with 24 sires entered and have an additional 24 sires entered for 2016. In 2016 we see two new sites joining the project with 13 sires joined at MerinoLink, Temora (NSW) and 15 sires joined at Pingelly in Western Australia with each site joining for two years. It is hoped that a fourth site will be established for a joining in 2017.

The project has been designed to answer many questions frequently discussed in the Merino industry. What is the impact of selecting for growth, reproduction and carcase traits on Merino Lifetime productivity? Why do some animals consistently perform year in and year out whilst others fade with time? Are there any factors that might help us to better predict superior lifetime performance? And can animals selected at very young ages have superior lifetime productivity?

The broader aims of the project are to:

  • Where necessary, provide the evidence and data that the current systems can be enhanced to more accurately predict lifetime productivity.
  • Demonstrate to the industry in a commercial environment the cost benefit relationship of measuring multiple adult traits throughout the lifetime of an animal.
  • To validate the current breeding value technology across sheep types and environments.
  • Provide a substantial amount of reproduction records to the MERINOSELECT database, allowing the industry to more accurately assess the relationship between all the components that make up lifetime productivity.
  • Provide a common focus for a wide range of ram breeders with differing breeding philosophies.

The project has attracted considerable interest to date with ram breeders eager to assess sire lifetime performance through their daughters. Over 90 nominations were received from ram breeders wishing to fill the 52 spots available in 2016. We are looking for sires for the 2017 joining and are keen to attract interest across all breeding philosophies and from a range of Merino types.

Find out more from AWI

Read about the Trial in Beyond the Bale‘s June edition