Australia is losing significant market share to countries marketing non-mulesed wool and needs to be tapping into a lucrative market for non-mulesed wool by breeding sheep free of body wrinkle and with a bare breech, according to NSW Merino breeder Chad Taylor.
Mr Taylor from Wellington, 50km south-east of Dubbo, stopped mulesing his Merino sheep more than a decade ago, opening the door to markets where non-mulesed wool offered premiums of 50¢ to $1/kg.
‘‘If we are not breeding wool right around the tail of the sheep then there is less chance of catching the dag and urine streams which makes it quite simple to stop mulesing,’’ Mr Taylor said.
‘‘Given there is a demand for un-mulesed wool, we want to be in a position to supply that demand by breeding sheep free of wrinkle and with a bare breech, eliminating the need for mulesing.’’
Mr Taylor said he relied on feedback on dag scores in sire evaluation trials to fine tune body and breech wrinkle in his Mumblebone stud rams.
One ram in particular has emerged in the New England Sire Evaluation Associations’ trial as a trait leader for reduced breech cover, low breech wrinkle and dag, and low body wrinkle.
The ram, Mumblebone 13-0389, was ranked as a leader in a number of areas including as a trait leader in the Dual Purpose Plus Index which focuses on maintaining fibre diameter and staple strength with increased body weight and carcase traits, and the Wool Production Plus Index.
Mr Taylor said he believed the ram had a lot to offer the industry.
‘‘Sire evaluations are a great way of measuring a sire’s true genetic merit, under the same environmental factors, right away from artificial breeding.
‘‘By having rams entered in sire evaluation trials around the country, we can measure those genetics against other leading sires, in vastly different environmental conditions.’’