A Bred Well Fed Well workshop will be held on July 22 at Tottenham racecourse in central western NSW by Mumblebone Merinos and Centre Plus.
A focus on breeding values and ewe nutrition has helped Chad and Louise Taylor, Mumblebone Merinos, achieve a 15% lift in lamb numbers, while fast-tracking improvements to all key traits of their flock.
From fleece weight and staple length, through to fat cover and muscling, the Taylors have seen significant gains through the use of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) at their Mumblebone Merino Stud, near Wellington.
The Taylors were early adopters of ASBVs, starting with collecting data in 2004.
They have further enhanced their genetic decision-making skills and those of their clients, by undertaking and also hosting several of MLA’s Bred Well Fed Well workshops.
Chad, Louise and Chad’s father, George, run about 4000 ewes, with a mix of ram sales, wool sales, wether lamb and surplus ewe sales driving the business.
Chad said there was no doubt using ASBVs has helped drive genetic progress in their flock.
“In breeding value terms, our sale ram average for fleece weight has increased from +1 to +10 since 2004; average muscle depth has increased from -0.6 to +0.6; fat cover has increased from -0.2 to +0.5, and staple length has increased from +8 to +12,” Chad said.
“Every trait we select for has improved on the back of having breeding values to aid selection.”
Chad said producers have a lot to gain by using ASBVs combined with a better understanding of ewe nutrition, and encouraged other producers to attend or host a Bred Well Fed Well workshop.
“Addressing the nutritional requirements of twin-bearing ewes was a breakthrough for us as a result of Bred Well Fed Well workshop,” Chad said.
“When we preg scan, we identify the twin-bearers and if we lamb them down in mobs of 100, or close to that, we’ve been able to increase our lambing percentage to 170% on the back of that simple management change, all of which came from Bred Well Fed Well.
“That has equated to an extra 15% lambs across the whole joining.
“A less obvious, though important benefit of higher lambing rates is more mouths hitting the ground in early spring when we have our most reliable flush of feed. It also means we need to carry less ewes through our winter feed gap making it easier to match stocking rate to the seasonal variation in feed availability without having to intervene with a feed cart.
“High lambing rates really drives selection pressure at classing time, with so many more maiden ewes coming through to select the traits we want.
“It also reduces the age of the flock, meaning we can sell ewes at 5.5 years instead of 6.5 years.