Ram buyers at the recent Wattle Dale sale in Western Australia were using Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) much more than in previous years to inform their buying choices, driving up average prices and increasing clearance rates.
Rams on Wattle Dale’s catalogue, which was part of the multi-vendor Esperance Breeders Sale, averaged $1772, up from $1424 last year, with the number of Wattle Dale rams sold increasing to 139 for a 99% clearance rate, up from 86% last year.
Stud principal Dave Vandenberghe, of Scaddan, attributed the dramatic shift in buyer sentiment towards the use of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs), which had been supported by the roll out of the DNA Flock Profile test and the RamSelect app.
“More and more of my clients are getting behind ASBVs and really getting their heads around how to get the best out of that information. If you’re buying rams for a lot of money you want to know that they are going to perform,” Mr Vandenberghe said.
The Flock Profile test provides commercial breeders with a set of genetic measures for benchmarking their flock against industry averages – data which is stored and displayed in RamSelect.com.au to assist in selecting rams to better meet their breeding objectives.
Five of his clients undertook DNA Flock Profile testing prior to the sale as part of a research project led by MerinoLink and University of New England to drive genetic gain within the Merino industry, with Mr Vandenberghe noticing a shift in their trait selection emphasis on sale day.
ASHEEP, an Esperance-based breeder group, followed up the Flock Profile testing with a field day to discuss the outcomes and share the results with other local breeders, as well as how to track the performance of their ram teams through RamSelect.
“I wasn’t sure there would be much interest in it because this is a strong cropping area, but we had 21 people attend and they couldn’t get enough of it. It was absolutely worthwhile and well supported,” Mr Vandenberghe said.
“The key lesson to come out of the Flock Profiling for both the commercial breeders and for me, was to be realistic about your use of ASBVs when selecting replacement rams.
“People often identify the best rams based on the numbers but then realise they can’t afford them or they actually don’t need them. Ram buyers need to know specifically how rams will improve their flock, not just which rams are the best on offer, and then work out a price from there.”
One client, who traditionally purchased from three different studs, informed Mr Vandenberghe that in future he would no longer be purchasing animals without ASBVs.