Merino genetics challenge kicks off

Posted: March 16, 2015 at 9:44 am

YOUNG gun shearers took to the board to shear 750 wethers in Australia's largest commercial evaluation of Merino genetics - the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge (PWMCC).

The PWMCC which runs from 2014 to 2016 kicked off with 50 teams of 30 wethers last year.

Once all wethers were together they were separated into two sections, with one half being lotfed with their meat measured, while the remaining 15 from each team were used for wool evaluations.

The average age of the wethers when they entered the challenge was seven-months-old, they were all shorn upon entry and last week were shorn again with 11 months wool growth.

First shearing was conducted over a two-day period at the TAFE Riverina's Primary Industries Centre at Wagga last week.

Challenge convener, Craig Wilson, Wagga, said the challenge evaluated both commercial carcase and wool attributes of randomly sampled wethers lambs from across Australia.

Preliminary results show Jerilderie's Ross and Irene Wells' Willandra Merino stud, NSW, genetics as a standout with two of their clients claiming the two top places on the board.

Wedderburn growers, Ian and Julie Gould, "Wattle Grange", Victoria, finished with the best figures for their team of wethers that had a wool average of 19.4 micron, cut 8.6kg of wool, weighed 63.6kg, had a meat value of $86.07, wool value of $67.95 and total sheep value of $154.02.

Second placed in the statistics were Maurice and Nancye Hicks, "Springfield", Cootamundra, with his 20.6 micron team of wethers, that cut 9.4kg of wool, weighed 64.2kg had a meat value of $86.92, a wool value of $66.16 and a total sheep value of $153.08.

Mr Wells said when his clients put teams in the challenge it provided an opportunity to benchmark his genetics against others breeders, and in particular the concept that Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV's) and Estimated Breeding Value's (EBV's) were the only way the sheep industry could go forward.

Merino genetics challenge kicks off

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