A total of twelve South Africans represented the South African Dohne merino industry at the historical first Global Dohne Merino Conference in Dubbo, Australia.
These persons included Mr. Koos Vosloo and Dr. Kobus Delport (respectively, president and manager of the Dohne Merino Breed Society), Mr. Wicus Bekker (Crux Dohnes), Mr. John Morris and his wife (Terra Vino Dohne stud, Stellenbosch), Mr. Richard Armstrong and his wife (EDCN, Cathcart), Mr. Phillip Erasmus (Charlton Dohnes, Somerset East), Mr. Cameron McMaster and his Wife Rhoda, Mr. Jan Joubert (Inspector, BKB) and Mr. Gary Trethewey (Inspector, BKB).
The pre-conference tour formed an integral part of this prestigious event, and it already led to lots of discussion in South Africa before its start in Melbourne.
This account of the pre-conference tour, includes aspects of a technical nature, interspersed by some of the interesting incidents of a tourist nature.
Lots of "sheep talk" and networking with sheep breeders of all over the globe, as well as some serious technical discussions was the main dish on each day's menu. However, true to the nature of South African farmers, time was also made for lot's of humour and a quick visit to a main tourist attraction.
En-route to Melbourne some members of the South African contingent, took the very brief opportunity to take a glimpse of the Sydney bridge and opera-house. The photos taken (below) evidently proofed that their attempt was not in vain! Unfortunately this first but brief acquaintance with Australia, did not provide for a proper sundowner. Departure time for Melbourne, did not allow it.
After a good night's rest in Melbourne, our very competent tour guide and bus driver, Tim, collected all the tour members including a number of delegates from South America as well as Tom Filbin from the USA and their luggage to depart for the city of Bendigo where we stayed for three days. Throughout the tour, Tim, employed by Langley's coaches, provided excellent accurate and timeous service.
The Australian Dohne Merino exhibition at Bendigo was impressive and attracted large numbers of visitors. This is of some significance when considering that a total of 46 sheep breeds were represented at this arguably biggest small stock show in the world! This venue that is also home to the Merino breed's national show and national sale, was chosen by the Australian Dohne Merino association to host their first competitive Dohne Merino show.
From an outsider's point of view the Dohne Merino show was a great success from a marketing point of view. The Australians definitely experienced a few teething problems as expected. It was clear that the Dohne Breeders were not experienced in aspects of professional handling of show sheep. However their hospitality more than compensated and they even offered the South African visitors the opportunity to assist as handlers!
Richard Armstrong, Bruce Barnes-Webb and Gary Trethewey holding rams for the evaluation of a ram class. Koos Vosloo, Jan Joubert and Mandy Armstrong are the South African spectators.
The show took place in the format of a "Performance Test" show and results depended on a combination of breeding value information and visual appearance judgement. Obviously the balance between "figures and visual appearance" were subject to lots of criticism.
Photo right: Koos Vosloo, President of the South African Dohne Breed Society had the privilege to award the champion of the second class of rams judged on the show. Thereafter he and Dr. Kobus Delport were called on to award more first prizes for various other classes.
Results from this first show for Australian Dohne Merinos, once again confirmed the huge educational task concerning the use of visual appearance even when objectively measured, as sole indicator of breeding value. All serious animal breeders and scientists alike of course are well acquainted with the "environmental bias" that relegate animal phenotype to a less accurate indication of "breeding potential". This change of mindset needed, to judge animals by combining "BLUP-EBV's" with phenotypic appearance, of course contributed to a large part of the criticism at this "Show for Measured Performance"
Photo left: Older ram in the middle more grown out with superior appearance took the honors as supreme Dohne Merino Grand champion Australian Dohne Merino ram. The two younger rams to the left were the "Pairs Champion Set of two young rams" and the one to the left the Champion young Dohne Merino ram for Australia.
Even South African officials levelled lots of criticism towards especially the conformation of the rams. The general feeling was that the measured performance in the form of Ebv's, had too much influence on the end result. This is quite ironic, since genetic merit and not environmental effects in the sense of over-feeding, should be the core-business of stud breeding.
Photo right: John Nadine, Koos Vosloo and Gregg McCann discussing the merits of a ram to be showed.
Off course, the South Africans was on the look out for possible genetic material with potential to be imported to South Africa. Therefore this Australian showcase was of special importance to all foreign visitors at the show. South Africa can definitely benefit from the progress that the Australians made regarding quality wool production
Photo left: Bruce Barnes Webb and Kobus Delport discussing the merits of the Australian judging system. Obviously the economic environment in Australia, differs substantially from that in South Africa. Having said that, enough common ground exist to justify exchange of breeding material and cooperation at various other levels.
Photo right: The Australian Dohne Merino Association also participated in the National Fleece Competition. The agents of the wool broker firms took turns to announce winners. Dohne fleeces participated in a separate section from other breeds.
Photo left: Richard Beggs exhibited the Champion Dohne Merino Ram Fleece. It was quite informative to compare the fleeces in the Dohne Merino section with the merino fleeces and those of other dual purpose breeds.
It is noteworthy that the entire Australian wool clip moved towards fine wool. The finest fleece in the competition measured 12.5 µ and the value of the fleece was estimated on the official score card to be 112 Australian dollar. This merino ewe fleece of Kooringa Farming was incentally placed only second in its section! Merino sections provided for ultra fine, Super fine, fine etc classes. When observing the fleeces on display that were of such extremely high quality (MF1 types) and fineness, it becomes clear why the price premium for South African wool shrunk to such a small margin!
Photo right: The role of honor of Australian Sheep Breeder Presidents in the foyer of the main exhibition hall of the Bendigo showgrounds. The Merino and several other breeds staged their national sale during this premier event in Australia.
Photo left: Richard Beggs (with blue cap in the middle), who also runs a Merino stud, exhibited the Grand Champion Merino ewe. The emphasis on wool production and fineness in especially Merino sheep is very clear.
Photo right: The Merino champion ram was auctioned on the Australian National sale for the highest price of 15,000 Australian Dollar.
Photo left: A useful tip to our South African Auctioneering firms is this sale result displayed on a big television screen. As the sale progressed, numbers of persons followed the result and especially the change in average price, to make up their minds on that to buy at what stage of the sale!
Note this report is continued in the follow-up article on this website
A total of twelve South Africans represented the South African Dohne merino industry at the historical first Global Dohne Merino Conference in Dubbo, Australia.
The pre-conference tour formed an integral part of this prestigious event, and it already led to lots of discussion in South Africa before its start ..........
As a follow up on the first part of the tour, it is of South African significance that the Dorper display filled up an entire exhibition hall at the Bendigo small stock show. We met a number of South Africans when this photo was taken right at the start of the National Dorper sale in Australia.
Photo right: Before leaving Bendigo on tour to Dubbo we had the opportunity to visit Bendigo's major land marks - The Museum and statue in remembrance of this gold mining area of the past's participation in the first world war.
Photo left: Another landmark visited - The impressive Sacred Heart Cathedral that overlooks the Centre of this city of historical significance in the gold mining history of Australia.
Photo right: Right after crossing into NSW over the Murray river, the tour visited the largest pig production unit in Austalia. This unit with 198,000 pigs on its premises, is responsible for 17 percent of Australia's pork production. The size of this animal production unit which also includes a 2,000 ewe strong commercial Dohne Merino flock, is just mind boggling. True to the Australian sense for orderliness, the access point in the photograph funtions as a bio-security check point.
Photo left: The visit was hampered by exceptional rainy conditions and the section of 4,000 free ranging sows could only be observed from a distance from inside the tour bus.
Photo right: Effluent dams from the piggery are used for irrigation after the methane was burnt of by special methane burners, The manure is also used for crop production and some of it is bagged and sold.
Photo left: At the time of the visit the unit delivered 25,000 pigs per day to be slaughtered. The unit's size and efficient use and recycling of all resources set an example for all to be followed.
Photo right: After leaving the pig unit, disaster struck on the way to the Gullendah Dohne stud. We South Africans experiencing drought conditions at home, was very impressed with the amount of rain that fell in the very flat Riverina area until our suitcases became wet ! Fortunately the Aussie farmers reacted very swiftly and with the help of a huge John Deere we were quickly back on the road.
Photo Left: Excellent young Gullendah Dohne sales rams were on display for the tour group. The Gullendah stud was established by means of upgrading from a pure merino flock. The Australian farmers are Masters at multiplying newly introduced genetic material and this stud is no exception. Mention was made about the problem of too high protein levels of the natural grazing on this flat and fertile winter rainfall area. This is possibly the main reason for maintaining very much higher levels of wool production than we South Africans are used too.
Photo right: Information supplied by the Australian Dohne Merino Association to evaluate Australian Dohnes. PWT indicate Post weaning growth rate; EMD Eye Muscle Depth. The rest of the abbreviations are self explanatory. Note the extreme high Body weight of the ram in question, also display a relative high fibre diameter (21 µ but -1.0 breeding value) that indicate fantastic environmental conditions for woolled sheep production. The overall merit of 159 in terms of the Australian Dohne Index Value, was the highest seen on the day.
Photo: Some top Gullendah rams with open faces. From the bit more pleaty young lambs seen, it was clear the wool production potential is much higher than South African Dohne Merinos. However pre-weaning growth does not feature in their selection on account of the stage of marketing being a bit later than in South Africa. It can therefore also, generally speaking, be expected that the conformation of Australian Dohnes are to be a little lanky.
Photo: On the same day, Tom Holts Coonong Dohne stud was visited. He produces enough Dohne Merino wool from his 35,000 strong flock, to secure a contract with quantas for their clothing. On the photo are 4,000 unclassed maiden Dohne Merino ewes.
Photo: Tom in discussion with John Morris. Management of such vast number of sheep without an extensive labour resource, was high on the South African visitors' agenda.
Photo: Some excellent Dohne wool on display at Coonong
Mr. Wikus Bekker enjoying an extra huge lemington after lunch at Coonong.
Late the same afternoon, the tour paid a visit to Roseville park Dohnes. Here we were met by the first Emus on our visit by Australia. Mr. Graham Coddington and Susan Coddington hosted the tour for the evening. Apart from viewing their Dohnes, they also staged a demonstration of how they put drones to use on their farm. Later in the evening a jackaroo also entertained the tour by cracking two whips simultaneously, to create musical rhythms.
From here the tour went on to Dubbo, as discussed in the following article
The Australian Pre-conference tour (continued) provided a mix of technical information and excellent entertainment to set-up a great sense of comradery and an appetite for the excellent conference to follow at Dubbo.
The Australian visit most certainly exceeded South African expectations regarding Dohne wool.
Along the tour we came across a number of practical hints which may be of use back home. Some of the more prominent ones are presented in this article. The reader is directed to other articles on the website as well as our 50th year, journal for a more complete report on the actual presentations. Search the news section on our Website and also get hold of our Dohne journal for the South African contribution
Photo : The Aussies are ingenius when it comes to gadgets to solve specific problems. This eartag was specifically designed to solve the problem of lost tags in difficult terrain by adding a plasic washer.
Incidentally a stall at the Bendigo show, advertised "cheap" re-usable electronic ear tags at 11 dollar a piece. The reason for the drop in price was derived, as being the the state of Victoria implementing compulsory identification of all small stock for the purpose of traceability. This affordable electronic system of identification was designed to fit to the government's specification. Obviously in this part of the world, private sector and government co-exist in harmony.
Photo: A mobile "dipping road train" to dip sheep on a contractual basis - One of the solutions for large scale farming without labour. According to the advertising banner, dipping takes place on an individual sheep basis
Photo The dipping facility, photo above - Big truck with two very long trailers was too long to fit into one photo!
Photo: South African farmers can take note of this classing platform. This cheaply constructed wooden platform, fitting into the race, not only makes life easier for the classer by not needing to bend over, but also speeds up the process of classing with less labour needed. This particular platform, observed at Coonong Dohnes, also have a built in scale. Note the yellow cable running from the display/computing unit to the weigh bars below the platform. In this way the weight of each sheep is immediately known at classing, leading to much improved accuracy of classing. Classing at eye level under the correct lighting conditions off course also contribute to accuracy.
Photo: This sheep dog at the Bendigo sales yard, is only one application of sheep dogs to save labour. The dog is muzzled according to legislation, to prevent any possible harm to sheep. At this sales yard, very few labourers (I counted six) with dogs unload the sheep for sales and upload the huge trucks for dispatch. The level of skill of these extremely efficient labourers (dogs) was absolutely amazing. On farms, two way radios are used to communicate with the dogs at greater distances and poorer visibility
Photo: The tour visited a sale of mainly slaughter lambs at the Bendigo livestock exchange. At this end of season sale only approximately 13,000 animals were sold and dispatched in a couple of hours time. According to the manager their usual work rate is to sell approximately 35,000 sheep per morning during the sales season. In the afternoons the well designed yard is cleaned by means of high pressure hoses for the next days proceedings. The sign in the photo indicate the different auctioneering firms' schedules according to the numbers on sale. Ramps for on and off loading are also allocated according to schedule to ensure an efficient workflow. So simple but so efficient.
Photo: the sale in progress. It was surprising to that that so few people were responsible for so many sheep changing hands in such a short timespan.
Photo: The tour group was treated to a demonstration of different drones at Roseville park. The drones are playing an increasingly more significant role in routine inspections of camps and water points. Diseased animals are identified and drones are used to "search for sheep in difficult accessible areas. Apart from drones, the tour impression is that Australians are also into automatic drenching and inoculating systems according to the individual weight of each animal as well as sophisticated "medicine" dispensing systems into drinking water.
Photo the conference itself was addressed by 14 speakers on topics varying from genomics, systems applications, to marketing strategies, and industry trends
Photo: The overall impression was that the Dohne Merino, which is claimed to have a 40 percent influence on the Australian Merino industry, is extremely popular in all quarters of sheep farming in Australia. The Breed is marketed, not only as per photo, but also to improve on pure mutton production systems by means of its compliment of Merino wool combined with mothering ability. Off course it is on the other hand marketed to compliment pure wool production systems, by adding income from reproduction and growth rate.
Photo: Tom Filbin, a Merino breeder from the USA added this political dimension to his description of the small stock industry in his country.
I am quite certain that a number of small stock breeders in other countries across the world, will be able to identify with Tom's sentiments on government policy. Tom also bought the book "Birth of a Breed - The Dohne Merino story" long before the conference and also attended Cameron McMaster's Dohne Merino course in Western Australia after the conference.
Photo: A highlight was when Cameron McMaster accompanied by his wife Rhoda, received honorary membership of the Australian Dohne Merino Association, at the conference dinner.
Photo: The South African contingent that attend the first Global Dohne Merino Conference. The ADBA logo is in the background at the conference dinner.
Photo: After the conference dinner, when everybody was in relaxed mode, the National Dohne Merino sale took place. The sale, also in evening format (same as South Africa) differed by the absence of an auctioneer's ring with rams inside. The Australians replaced this conventional setup with a big screen on which a photo of each ram appeared together with the relevant breeding information (see photo). The rams stayed at the show grounds where they could be viewed during the course of the conference.
Dohne Merino South Africa, salutes our Australian counter parts for staging this excellent event.
South African agriculture was subject to not only economic instability but also the onslaught of a terrible drought during, particularly the latter half of 2015 in the summer rainfall areas. Numbers of small towns experienced demoralizing water shortages and depended on underground water supplied by farmers. The fortunes of Dohne Merino breeders were softened by the attributes of hardiness and adaptability of their flocks. In true Dohne Merino culture, our breeders also assisted each other by donations of feed where possible. Fortunately Dohne Merino farmers could also benefit from the increase in mutton and especially wool price on account of mainly the drop in the value of the Rand. The inherent value of the dual purpose Dohne Merino breed also resulted in an increased demand for high quality rams. Breeders are therefore encouraged to pay special attention to measured productivity in their breeding programs. Prevailing conditions dictate that flock farmers are buying in less genetic material but of higher quality.
The year 2014, was also a year of celebration of the 75th year of existence of the breed. The far-sightedness of the flock farmers around Stutterheim that laid the foundation of the breed, in this day and age, still sets the example for every breeder to follow. Participation in the World Merino Conference was a great success and renewed international contact was made. The Dohne exhibition, to which the Australian Dohne Merino Association contributed, attracted large numbers of visitors and meaningful discussions on various aspects of Dohne Merino management and breeding took place.
1 Membership and flock size
Membership of the breed increased to 97 members in 2015. This increase can be ascribed to new F3-studs entering the breed. It is hoped that these new studs will follow in the footsteps of many well established studs that was initiated in this manner. Ewe numbers registered declined by 938 (2.9 percent) to 32,609. This non-significant decline in number of ewes registered may be ascribed to current drought conditions.
Table / Tabel 1 : Membership and population size Lidmaatskap en populasie grootte
|Honorary Members/ Ere Lede||7||7||7||7||8||8||8||7||6|
|No of recorded ewes/|
Getal geregistreerde ooie
According to Table 2, it is clear that three of the studs with more than 300 ewes reduced their ewe numbers to less than 300 and that simultaneously one new stud with less than 50 ewes, was established. Although these figures may indicate a degree of uncertainty in the market for rams amongst the big studs, the 8 new
Table / Tabel 2 Analysis of stud size – Ontleding van stoetgrootte
|Studs with 300 or more ewes||37||35||37||37||45||45||40||43||48||46|
|Stoeterye met tussen 200 en 299 ooie||18||19||20||20||9||9||15||14||12||15|
|Studs with between 100 and 199 ewes||28||25||16||16||20||20||21||15||9||9|
|Stoeterye met tussen 50 en 99 ooie||6||13||10||10||8||7||5||7||7||6|
|Studs with less than 50 ewes||2||3||9||9||6||5||8||10||7||8|
|Active breeders/Aktiewe telers||93||95||92||92||88||86||89||89||83||84|
members including one active member, may on the other hand indicate possible growth in the near future.
Figure 1: Distribution of Stud Dohne Merinos on a regional basis. Verspreiding van Dohne Merinos op 'n streeksbasis
According to figure 1, Region 3 (Overberg area) is home to the largest number of stud Dohne Merinos and regions 2 (Karoo) and 4 (Western Cape and Western Karoo) remain the smallest.
3 Lambing percentage
The lambing percentage for all studs in 2015 is 138% compared to 142% in 2014. The lower lambing percentage is the direct consequence of drought conditions and it can be expected that the lower lambing percentage will continue for next year since the drought is prevailing during the mating season. However, Dohne Merino breeders can still be congratulated on achieving such a relative high lambing percentage during the current dry spell.
Table 3: Lambing percentage of stud Dohne Merino ewes
4 Inspections & selection intensity
Table 4 indicates the number of sheep approved, expressed as a percentage of the number of lambs present at lamb inspection (100 days). According to the figures in Table 4 the high standard of particularly ram selection was maintained for 2015.
Table/Tabel 4: Number of sheep approved and selection intensity/Getal skape goedgekeur en seleksie intensiteit
|AA Rams/AA Ramme||1822|
A total of 10235 F3 ewes were inspected during 2014 and 622 (6,1 Percent) were approved. During 2013, in comparison 8.9 percent were approved. The slight increase in number of F3 ewes inspected (640), may be an indication that the negativity regarding the introduction of F3 genetic material with lower initial breeding values, is lessening.
Table/Tabel 5 Number of F3-ewes inspected/Getal F3-ooie geinspekteer
5 Sales of breeding material
The number of rams sold on all sales decreased by 56 rams to 2,718 compared to the record set in 2014. Simultaneously the average price per ram decreased by R265-00 per ram to R8,386. The indication is therefore that a slight degree of consumer resistance may have developed on account of the high price levels set in 2014. Economic and generally negative physical agricultural conditions, may also have contributed to this result. According to market signals received from the main broker firms, the adverse financial situation of especially extensive livestock farmers, may well continue into 2016 and beyond.
Table/Tabel 6: Sales – 2015 - Veilings
|No public sales/|
|No rams sold/|
|No ewes transferred/|
6 Technical matters
6.1 Production recording
Despite the decline of 938 ewes on record and a four percent drop in lambing percentage, 681 more weaning weights were recorded. It can safely be inferred that complete recording of weaning weights of all breeders is now accomplished. A worrying aspect is that some breeders lag behind in recording procedures and only supply data shortly before results are needed for the purpose of sales. This practice jeopardizes the accuracy of breeding values across the entire breed. Cases of changes in ranking of possible superior stud sires, were reported and we therefore call on all breeders to submit data timeously.
Performance test figures (Table 7) are quite stable compared to 2013. The non-significant small changes may be ascribed to the effect of the drought in the inland areas. The good conditions experienced in the winter rain fall areas most probably evened the average figures out.
Table/Tabel 7 Average production values of Dohne Merinos/Gemiddelde produksiewaardes
6.2 Other technical matters
The upgrading of the office computing system is well underway and once completed, an improved data flow can be expected. Availability of vaccines may remain problematic in the short term. After upgrading of facilities at Onderstepoort, it can be expected that the situation will improve.
7 Top Breeder awards
Congratulations to the following 2015 Regional Dohne Merino Top breeder award winners: Region 1 Mr. Frans and Andries Marx, FEM Dohnes, Burgersdorp; Region 2 Mr. Philippie Marais, Japie Marais and Hugh Collett, Lowmar Dohnes, Cradock; Region 3 Mr. DH (Boeta) Wessels, Weska Dohnes, Bredasdorp; Region 4 Mr John Morris, Terra Vino Dohne Stud, Stellenbosch; Region 5 Mr. Louis and Carel Nel, Nello Dohnes, Brandfort; Region 6 Mr. Clark Rattray, CCM Farms, Swartberg, KZN. The Dohne Merino Breed Society herewith express our gratitude to the main sponsors over many years – Virbac, BKB and Molatek.
8.1 Annual General Meeting
After appropriate election of councilors the following council was appointed for 2015: Koos Vosloo (president), Lionel de la Harpe (vice-president), HW (Manie) Botha, Andries Greyling, Marcellene van Rooyen, Clark Rattray, DH (Boeta) Wessels, JH (Koenas) van der Westhuizen and Philippie Marais.
The finances of the Breed Society are sound but special provision will have to be made for the 50th anniversary of the Breed Society in 2016.
8.3 Per capita fee
Although it was decided to make an annual adjustment to the per capita fee that is inflation related, it was decided to set this fee at only R16.50 for 2015.
8.4 Courses and Promotion
The Society conducted eight courses that were attended by a total of 237 students. Attendees included 12 breeders (flock and stud) and 19 officials and prospective inspectors as well as three South American visitors. The Society also supported various field days and exhibitions within regions. The high light of the year’s activities was off course the attendance of the World Merino Conference in Stellenbosch.
Outstanding service was provided by office personnel consisting of three permanent employees and two temporary workers. The increased workload on account of the World Conference and attendance to overseas visitors posed no problem to the dedicated staff.
9 Acknowledgements and thanks
A special word of thanks to all our sponsors, breeders, inspectors and officials that so ably assisted in the superb treatment of our international guests. Together with the support of various organisations in the woolled sheep industry, these too many persons to list by name, were responsible for the success achieved by the Dohne Merino Breed Society in 2015.
South African agriculture was subject to not only economic instability but also the onslaught of a terrible drought during, particularly the latter half of 2015 in the summer rainfall areas. Numbers of small towns experienced demoralizing water shortages and depended on underground water supplied by farmers. The fortunes of Dohne Merino breeders were softened by the attributes of hardiness and adaptability of their flocks. In true Dohne Merino culture, our breeders also ..............
The main selection criteria for the Dohne Merino breed is among others to increase yearling live weight, maintain fleece weight and to reduce mean fibre diameter. It is known that heavier and leggier animals tend to be less hardy and possibly less reproductive. It is hypothesised that selection for growth (weaning and post weaning) will lead to a leggier type of animal with a negative impact on reproduction rate.
To estimate genetic parameters for shoulder height, live weight, wool and reproduction traits in a Dohne Merino flock.
Data on yearling shoulder height (SH), weaning weight (WWT), yearling weight (YWT), yearling clean fleece weight (CFW), yearling fibre diameter (FD), number of lambs weaned at first lambing (NLW1) and number of lambs weaned at second lambing (NLW2) were recorded in the University of Stellenbosch Dohne Merino flock between 2002 and 2015. The number of available records ranged from 926 for NLW2 to 7434 for WWT. ASREML was used to estimate genetic parameters for these traits.
Derived heritability estimates (±SE) amounted to 0.40±0.05 for SH, 0.18±0.03 for WWT, 0.41±0.06 for YWT, 0.40±0.03 for CFW, 0.69±0.03 for FD, 0.13±0.05 for NLW1 and 0.10±0.06 for NLW2. Significant maternal genetic effects were found for WWT (0.07±0.02) and YWT (0.08±0.02), while WWT was also affected by dam permanent environment (0.06±0.01). Genetic correlations with SH amounted to 0.58±0.10 for WWT, 0.54±0.10 for YWT, 0.10±0.11 for CFW, 0.13±0.09 for FD, 0.17±0.19 for NLW1 and 0.39±0.22 for NLW2. The genetic correlations of SH with maternal genetic variance ratios for WWT and YWT amounted to respectively 0.38±0.14 and 0.08±0.16.
Shoulder height is highly heritable and correlated with growth traits (WWT and YWT). Selection for these traits, as currently in practise, will increase SH in the breed. No data is available to support the assumption that it will lead to a leggier type of animal. The direction of genetic correlations of SH and reproduction traits was positive but these correlations were not significant as reflected by estimates below twice the corresponding standard error. SH was lowly correlated with YFW and YFD.
The current Dohne Merino breeding objective will result in animals with a higher shoulder height. It is recommended that additional data be collected on condition scores at weaning and yearling age to quantify the impact of the current breeding objective on all traits of economic importance.
NEWclients fromIvanhoe, NSW, were the volume buyers
at the Hall family’s Ulooloo Dohne sale at Hallett. Father and son Edward and Shane Rees, Retreat SAMM stud, travelled across the border as they are trialling Dohnes in their SAMM flock.
They bought 16 rams to $1700, averaging $868. Edward said he was looking for quality sires with good eye muscle, thickness and frame and had been recommended Ulooloo rams by Rodwells wool specialist Chris Vordermaier.
There were two top price rams at $1900. One went to father and son Glan and James Moore, Jamestown, who have been buying from Ulooloo for the past three years.
James said he was happy with the sires. “They’re good all-rounders, they’re well-presented rams with beautiful wool,” he said.
“Another bonus is that the lambs have good early growth rates.” The 80-kilogram ram measured 135.9 on the Dohne index and had 30-millimetre eye muscle depth.
Its 18.6-micron fleece measured 17 coefficient of variation with 99.8 per cent comfort factor. TheMoores bought another ram at $1800. The other $1900 top price ram went to Glenn Hayes, Carinya Park, Kybunga. The ram measured 155.4 on the Dohne index, had 28EMD, and its fleece was 17.7M with 17.5CV and 100CF.
Mr Hayes also bought a further two rams to $1700, averaging $1466 overall. Black Springs buyers included Nicholls Family Trust, with two rams to $1200, averaging $800, and Golden Slopes with two at $1500.
Overall, the sale’s average was slightly up on last year at $880 and clearance was improved at 83pc.
Ulooloo co-principal Rob Hall was happy to have some new faces at the sale. “The rams are selling into plenty of different areas, and return buyers say they are very happy with what they are able to pick up at the sale,” he said. The stud had success at this year’s Australian Sheep & Wool Show at Bendigo, Vic, winning reserve junior champion.
“We had a bit of interest out of that, and that gives us confidence that our breeding is right up there with the best of them,” Mr Hall said.
“We’re focusing on early growth rates, with the target of producing 20kg dressedweight lambs at four to five months old.
“Another focus is on keeping a good Merino quality fleece, cutting plenty of wool.”
– PAULA THOMPSON