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Genetic improvement of Merino sheep in Australia. Laurie Piper CSIRO Livestock Industries Armidale NSW Australia. Researching the Global Market Place. 56 Target Consumer Discussion Groups ABC1, 25-40 Clothing Interest USA, JN, UK, GE, FR, IT.

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genetic improvement of merino sheep in australia

Genetic improvement of Merino sheep in Australia

Laurie Piper

CSIRO Livestock Industries

Armidale NSW Australia

researching the global market place
Researching the Global Market Place

56 Target Consumer Discussion Groups ABC1, 25-40 Clothing Interest

USA, JN, UK, GE, FR, IT

10,500 Quantitative Consumer Survey Major Six plusCH, KOR, POL, CSFR

38 Major Retailer Interviews (7 Countries, 3000 Outlets)

83 Processing Partner Interviews (11 Countries)

IWS REVIEW 1992/93

IWS Global Product Management

Continual Market Data and External Surveys

A NEW AWARENESS OF WHAT TODAYS CONSUMER IS DEMANDING

changing apparel requirements in the 90 s
Changing Apparel Requirements in the 90’s

SUMMARY

  • Quality at a competitive price
  • More comfort (lightweight, soft) and practicality
  • Transeasonal versatility
  • Natural fibres
  • Readily accessible product information
processing changes
Processing changes
  • Processing speeds increasing
  • Labour inputs decreasing
  • Spinners and Weavers trying to reduce yarn and fabric weights but hampered by reduced labour inputs and higher processing speeds in modern mills
  • Solution is to use finer wool and to investigate other processing options such as singles yarns, Sirostretch etc.
competition from other apparel fibres
Competition from other apparel fibres
  • Cotton has reduced its fibre diameter by around 25% in the last 15 years
  • Man-made fibres have become significantly finer in the last 5-7 years
  • Wool must reduce its diameter to remain competitive
wool as a textile fibre
Wool as a textile fibre

Strength (g/tex) Diameter (µm)

Wool 14 14-26

Cotton 36 13

Rayon 30 3-18

Acrylic 24 3-18

Polyester 40 3-18

Nylon 51 3-18

Silk 36 5

wool quality effect of raw wool traits on product value
Wool QualityEffect of raw wool traits on Product Value

TOP YARN CLOTH

Yield ****

VM ** **

Mean Fibre Diam. **** **** ****

Fibre Diam Var. * * *

Staple Length *** *

Staple Length Var. E

Staple Strength **

Crimp/Res. to Comp. * * *

Colour * * *

Dark Fibre Content E E E

sheep production statistics

Sheep numbers

Production (2000/01)

Millions

Wool

$2971m (22%)

1989/90

180

Mutton

$224m (2%)

1997/98

117

Lamb

$671m (5%)

2000/01

115

Live exports

$189m (1%)

Sheep Production statistics
merino statistics 1999 2000
Merino statistics - 1999/2000
  • Total sheep numbers 115 million
  • Total wool production 632,000 tonnes
  • Total ewes mated 53 million
  • Total ewes mated with Merino rams 42 million
  • Total Merino rams sold /year 180,000
  • Total number Merino studs 1900
  • 250 studs account for 80% of the rams sold
merino studs philosophies of selection
Merino studs - philosophies of selection
  • Breeding Objectives - Sheep cutting more wool with better processing performance
  • Selection strategies
    • Traditional hand and eye appraisal by professional stud classers - little or no use of objective measurements
    • Objective measurement based programs incorporating some input from professional stud classers - Rampower, Merino Lambplan, Merino benchmark, etc
    • “Soft Rolling Skin”, “Elite Wool” trademark methods based around the expertise of a “guru”
traditional merino industry structure

Parent studs

Rams

Daughterstuds

Rams

Commercial growers

Traditional Merino industry structure
  • Strong links between parent, daughter, grower
more recent trends
More recent trends
  • Across-flock information fosters increased mobility of ram buyers

Studs

Rams

Commercial growers

genetic improvement for commercial merino breeders
Genetic improvement for commercial Merino breeders
  • Buy rams from the traditional stud just like Dad and Grandad
  • Define a breeding objective and utilise publicly available performance data to choose an appropriate stud
    • National wether trial database evaluating performance of a large number of Merino bloodlines
    • Central Test Sire Evaluation database evaluating performance of a large number of rams based on controlled progeny tests
    • Evaluate current breeding program with chosen stud and assess likely progress towards breeding objective
choosing a ram source on current production level
Choosing a ram source on current production level
  • Impact of bloodline change on fleece weight, diameter, wool quality and size / reproduction
  • Wether trials provide data on most traits, except reproduction and disease resistance
  • Information from wether trials represent past performance (5-10 years ago) and needs to account for recent genetic gain
choosing a ram source on likely genetic gains future production level
Choosing a ram source on likely genetic gains (future production level)
  • Genetic responses determined by:
    • breeding objective - expected changes
    • selection accuracy - traits measured, selection emphasis, index selection
    • across-flock selection - central test sire evaluation, Merino Benchmark
  • Measures (indicators) of genetic change:
    • time trends - phenotypic, BLUP
    • benchmark against other flocks
effect of genetic options individually on flock fibre diameter
Effect of genetic options individually on flock fibre diameter

Source - 2mm finer bloodline

Gain - 1mm finer over 10 years

Rams - 1mm finer than average

Ewes - cull 30% replacements on diameter

effect of combined genetic options on flock fibre diameter
Effect of combined genetic options on flock fibre diameter

Source - 2mm finer bloodline

Gain - 1mm finer over 10 years

Rams - 1mm finer than average

Ewes - cull 30% replacements on diameter

changes in diameter have arisen from
Changes in diameter have arisen from:
  • Ram source changes
  • More targeted breeding practices by many ram breeders
  • Selection of flock rams at source
  • Diameter measurement of commercial ewes and wethers
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Merino breeding programs in Australia are rapidly evolving
  • Breeding objective focus in studs is increasingly on major profit drivers, clean fleece weight and fibre diameter
  • Publicly available comparative performance information on bloodlines, studs and individual rams is transforming the accuracy of choice for commercial sheep breeders
  • Changes of ram source and use of measurement by commercial sheep breeders is leading to higher rates of productivity increase in the Merino industry