Livestock

Seeking value

By Country News

Objective DNA benchmarking proved so powerful to her business that Riverina Merino breeder Stacey Lugsdin is set for a second round of Flock Profile testing to inform her ram purchasing decisions this season.

Mrs Lugsdin was one of the first to use the Flock Profile test, taking part in Sheep CRC’s initial pilot trial of the product in 2016, which prompted her to look more closely at where the flock could be improved and which rams should be selected based on a range of Australian Sheep Breeding Values.

The Flock Profile test provides commercial breeders with a set of genetic measures for benchmarking their flock against industry averages.

‘‘The Flock Profile test was probably the best thing we’ve done in a long time. It gave a focus on exactly where we needed to go,’’ Mrs Lugsdin said.

‘‘The first test results confirmed that our breeding objectives and selections to that point had been correct, but it also showed where we could improve in areas like fat depth, eye muscle, fleece weight and staple length.

‘‘Since then we’ve noticed an improvement in those areas in our young sheep through targeted ram selections and that’s why we’re doing another Flock Profile test to know exactly where we need to head to next.’’

Mrs Lugsdin and husband Ian run 4500 Merino ewes across the 7700ha property, 40km north-east of Hay.

The semi-arid environment averages just 325mm of rain each year, directly influencing the type of sheep bred and the genetics selected.

The Lugsdins are seeking to breed ‘‘big, bold, white, bright and deep-crimping wools’’ of 19 to 20 microns.

With a strong belief in the value of objective data, the Lugsdins had been using electronic identification for four years before using the DNA Flock Profile test as a means of objectively comparing those records against the national flock genetic benchmarks.

‘‘In this environment we really need to make each individual sheep as productive as possible because we can’t make this property carry more sheep,’’ Mrs Lugsdin said.

■For more information, visit: www.sheepcrc.org.au