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Council Report 2022

1 General Overview

Note that the council report on breed activities during 2022 is released only at the end of 2023 to be able to reflect on complete information on 2021 born animals (now two years old). The report provides valuable information on aspects such as reproduction, production values and selection intensity, which proved to be valuable for making on-farm decisions by stud breeders and flock farmers alike.

International instability had a marked effect on our local Dohne Merino industry. Not withstanding, the breed recorded an excellent ram sales season. General farming conditions dictated that production sales were responsible for 95 percent of the number of rams sold on all sales. Although the number of rams sold in 2022 are at the same level as 2021, the increased turnover (2.4 percent) yet again set a new record for the breed. The average price for rams increased by R 363 per ram and the top prices paid for rams at sales increased significantly. Detailed analysis indicates that Dohne Merino rams offer excellent value to flock farmers. The provisions are of course that flock farmers are using breeding value information effectively to increase the profitability of their own flocks.

2 Membership and flock size

Membership of the breed (92 in Table 1) remained stable. However, two members indicated that their studs are going to be terminated on account of external factors. This is also the main reason for the sharp decline in the number of registered ewes (2644 ewes less, Table 1). Prolonged drought, general poor economic conditions and accompanying stock theft are having an increasing effect on woolled sheep farming in general. Dohne Merino breeders must take note of these factors and take pro-active action.

Table 1: Membership and population size / Lidmaatskap en populasie grootte

Registered Members/ Geregistreerde Lede898997989090102969292
Honorary Members/ Ere Lede8766544433
No of recorded ewes/Getal geregistreerde ooie30572305723290642517337043258134254353553584533201

The number of honorary members (Table 1) remained intact at three members.

The 2022 distribution of stud sizes (Table 2) stayed quite stable compared to the figures for 2021. This pattern was established over many years and the instability of smaller studs remains a factor to be accounted for in the industry.

Table 2: Analysis of stud size – Ontleding van stoetgrootte

Studs with 300 or more ewes43484654393947474848
Stoeterye met tussen 200 en 299 ooie14121512222217141412
Studs with between 100 and 199 ewes1599108813131213
Stoeterye met tussen 50 en 99 ooie77689981368
Studs with less than 50 ewes107813121217111211
Active breeders/Aktiewe telers898384989090102969292

According to figure 1,  the ewe contribution by region 1 (Eastern Cape) and region 2  (Karoo)  increased by one percent to 21 percent and 15 percent, respectively. The number of ewes in the Southern Cape (region 3) decreased by 1 percent to 15 percent, while the contribution by the Western Cape (region 4) increased by one percent to 12 percent.    The ewe contribution by region 5 (Free State) increased by one percent to 20 percent but region 6 (KZN, Eastern Free State and Mpumalanga) decreased by one percent to 17 percent.  The end result of these small changes is that region 1 (Eastern Cape) remains the largest region  with the Western Cape the smallest in terms of ewe numbers.  The number of registered ewes per region varied between 7146 and 3867 which is marginally lower than for the previous year.  Drought conditions in some areas affected the distribution of registered ewes.

Figure 1: Distribution of stud Dohne Merinos on a regional basis

3 Lambing percentage

The lambing percentage for all studs in 2021 was 5 percent lower than for 2020 and 9 percent lower than for 2019 (Table 3). This downward trend is the result of the prolonged drought rather than genetic factors. In fact, the breed improved genetically according to genetic trends.

Table 3 Lambing percentage of stud Dohne Merino ewes


3.1 Birth registrations

Of the total of 38516 births registered 38.5 percent were single born lambs and 52.4 percent twin born lambs. Triplets and Quadruplets constituted 9.1 percent of the 2021 birth registrations. The recording of progressively more multiple born lambs at a lower overall lambing percentage (table 3) may indicate more intensive management of lambing operations amongst stud breeders.

YearTotal birthsSinglesTwinsTripletsQuadruplets

4 Animal losses from birth to 12 months of age.

Losses between birth and twelve months of age may vary considerably on account of various reasons. The methodology for estimating breeding values accounts for possible bias when applying multiple trait analysis. Depending on the nature of the data-structure, unbiased breeding values are a given fact for the Dohne Merino stud industry. Losses between birth registration and 100 days of age amounted to 4974 lambs or 13 percent. Society rules provides for a maximum cull rate of 20 percent on basis of 100 days selection. The loss of animals from 100 days of age to 12 months evaluation was 10,304 animals or 30 percent of those who survived to 100 days. Some bias regarding 12-months evaluation can therefore be expected. One reason may be the current economic situation linked to the effect of a very long dry spell that hit stock farmers particularly hard.

5 Inspections & selection intensity

Table 4 indicates the number of sheep approved (AA and A animals), expressed as a percentage of the number of lambs present at final inspection (12 months). The approval rate for both rams

and ewes for 2021 born animals varied slightly compared to 2020 born animals. More AA-rams (20 percent) were approved, and it is trusted that inspectors adhere to the quality standards set by the breed society. It is required that the percentage of AA-rams approved be kept below twenty percent on the inspection list to ensure acceptable rates of genetic improvement.

Note that the statistics in Table 4 are based on classing lists received at the office of the breed society during the calendar year and do not relate to the number of animals on which measurements were taken per birthyear (Table 7).

Table/Tabel 4 Number of sheep approved and selection intensity/Getal skape goedgekeur en seleksie-intensiteit.

Lamb crop/ Lammeroes201320142015201620172018201920202021
Ewes/ Ooie7804 (55%)8717 (57%)8069 (47%)6658 (47%)9781 (59%)8469 (60%)9781 (59%)8385 (57%)8197 (58%)
Ramme/ Rams7199 (48%)6518 (48%)6460 (39%)5418 (39%)7376 (50%)6564 (50%)7376 (50%)5855 (49%)6528 (48%)
AA Rams/ AA Ramme2892 (17%)2896 (17%)2866 (16%)2496 (16%)3016 (20%)2469 (19%)3016 (20%)2577 (18%)(2760) (20%)

Table 5 indicates that the number of F3 ewes presented for inspection increased to 18579. The number of approved ewes (1438) indicates a lower approval rate of 7,74 percent compared to 9.5 percent for 2021. It is concluded that only the highest quality upgraded commercial animals enter the stud-register of the breed society.

Table/Tabel 5 Number of F3-ewes inspected/Getal F3-ooie geinspekteer


6 Sales of breeding material

The total number of 2571 rams sold during 2022, resulted in a record turnover of R37,017 million. The average price of R14,248 per ram is also a record for the breed society. The top price for a single ram (R180,000) also indicates a high level of confidence of stud breeders in the Dohne Merino industry. Breeders can be complimented on this excellent performance. However, to maintain these levels of excellence, breeders have the responsibility to ensure that high priced rams produce genetically superior offspring under the circumstances their buyers are farming.

Public sales/ Pub veil.4844454648484349
Rams sold/ Ramme verk2,7182,5242,6032,8102,6192,5392,4792,571
Turnover / Omset22,793,75023,243,40028,807,40132,980,97031,568,56727,629,39836,380,00037,017,000
Highest price/ Hoogste prys130,000x2110,000220,000335,000180,000150,000120,000180,000
Average price/ Gemid prys8,3869,20411,06711,73711,47010,88213,73514,248
Ewes transf/ Ooi oordrag929482366276236143328101

7 Technical matters

7.1 Production recording

The figures for 2021 born animals (Table 7), indicate slightly higher levels of production as well as higher numbers of animals evaluated at weaning and 12-months of age compared to the 2020 born animals. The breed society recommends that breeders use the average production figures (Table 7) to plan their own operations. The Average WPP% for the breed remains between 5 and 6 percent. Maintaining the balance between wool production and meat production is basic to the competitiveness of Dohne Merinos in the small stock industry.

Test group/ Toetsgroep2012201320142015201620172018201920202021
No Animals 100 days/ Getal diere 100 dae17,05 0 16,06 716,753 17,06617,200 17,30018867 1873016511 1634019294 1924917576 1769816081 1572913493 1333516847 16695
Weaning weight/ Speengewig (kg)29.57 31.6929.12 31.3328.79 30.9628.24 30.3130.04 32.5127.7 29.130.07 32.4929.90 32.4628.21 30.4129.03 31.26
No Animals at 12 mths/ Getal diere 12 mde14,115 12,26812,544 12,12313,350 12,07314,379 12,41615,057 11,71013909 1179813771 1210812364 103199755 853912171 11067
Body weight/ Liggaams gewig (kg)45.15 60.3944.64 60.6445.26 60,2545.30 60.0846.54 60.1946.47 63.6947.68 65..1646.43 63.5044.89 61.0746.71 60.82
Clean Fleece weight/ Skoonvag gewig (kg)2.81 3.342.62 3.052.66 3.163.03 3.323.02 3.302.61 3.103.02 3.612.82 3.442.67 3.112.72 3.14
Fibre diameter/ Veseldikte (µ)17.68 17.9417.72 17.9317.58 17.8417.94 18.0017.94 17.9617.70 18.1017.91 18.2417.50 17.9017.17 17.5817.34 17.66
WPP %6.22 5.535.9 5.05.88 5.246.50 5.516.48 5.485.62 4.876.33 5.546.07 5.415.95 5.095.82 5.16

7.2 Genetic change

Table 8: Breed averages for breeding values of Dohne Merinos born in 2021 and changes in the averages of breeding values from 2020 to 2021.

TraitNumber lambs Weaned(%)Weaning Direct (kg)Weaning Maternal (kg)12months Body weightClean Fleece WeightFibre Diameter (µ)General Merit

The figures presented in table 8 were the results of breeding value comparisons with 2018 as base year. Table 8 indicates similar rates of change in both weaning weight direct and 12 months body weight breeding values. Weaning weight maternal breeding values decreased by 0.07 kg while the breeding values for wool traits seem to be stable. The increase in growth rate and body size resulted in an increase of +1.46 units of general merit.

Breeders are encouraged to place more emphasis on the number of lambs weaned per ewe lambed expressed as a percentage per ewe lifetime, in their breeding programs.

7.3 Genetic linkage

This year genetic linkage was calculated for a period of 11 years instead of 10 years. This is to allow breeders to use of semen from an older generation of rams standing at AI-stations as genetic links. In this analysis, only 233 link-sires could be identified compared to the 292 link- sires for the previous year. The number of studs with only one link (19), indicates room for improvement in this regard. Some other aspects that need attention include the number of progeny finally evaluated per sire as well as the mutual exchange of sires amongst studs. The use of link-sires born in only a few studs, leads to a reduction of the genetic pool of the breed. Remember that the definition of a genetic link is a sire having more than 20 offspring in each of at least two studs.

7.4 Other technical matters

Technical discussions regarding upgrading of office software as well as on-farm software continues at council level. SA Studbook regularly correct data errors and timeously provide accurate breeding values to our breeders. The addition of breeding values for number of lambs weaned per ewe lifetime (expressed as a percentage) to sales catalogues, serves to create awareness of improving rearing ability of Dohne Merinos.

8 Top Breeder awards

Congratulations to the National Top breeder Winner of 2022 Mr. Boeta Wessels (Weska Dohnes), who achieved this outstanding accomplishment two times in a row.

The Dohne Merino Breed Society thanks our sponsors – Virbac, BKB, Voermol and Molatek who sponsor this prestigious event on a continuous basis.

9 Administration

9.1 Annual General Meeting

After appropriate election of councilors, the following council was appointed: Philippie Marais (president), JH (Koenas) van der Westhuizen (vice-president), Andries Marx, Andries Greyling, Marcellene van Rooyen, Dries Pienaar, JL Bekker, Mr. John Morris and Richard Armstrong.

9.2 Finances

The Breed Society’s finances were sound. Investments of the society had grown according to expectations.

9.3 Per capita fee

The per capita fee was set at R27,00.

9.4 Courses and Promotion

A total of seven courses were presented during 2022. These courses were attended by 152 students and the prospective inspectors that passed the course for inspectors are congratulated.

9.5 Staff

Ms. Annelize Bertalan fits in very well with the activities of the breed society and the council of the breed society is in the process of appointing an assistant manager.

10 Acknowledgements and thanks

The support of all organizations that contributed to the success achieved by the Dohne Merino stud industry is thankfully acknowledged. A special thank you to all our sponsors, breeders and inspectors for their efficient service provided to the breed and the small stock industry.