The Hazeldean Merino sale may have been celebrating the previous 150 years, but the eyes of the vendors and buyers alike were clearly focussed on the future, with new ram selection technology a feature of the auction.
All rams catalogued were listed prior to auction on the Sheep CRC’s app, RamSelect.com.au, allowing buyers like Tim Kent, “Merribindinyah”, Bethungra, to objectively scrutinise the offering for their suitability to his individual breeding objectives.
With assistance from his sheep breeding advisor Allan Casey, of Orange, NSW, Mr Kent used the web-based app’s trait slider bars to place exactly the right amount of selection emphasis on traits important to his flock, including fleece weight, growth and worm egg count.
“Allan brought the app to our attention and following his advice on the amount of emphasis we should place on our key traits, we were then able to objectively class the offering on our terms,” Mr Kent said.
“Out of a catalogue of 117 rams we listed off 100 rams using our selection criteria and divided those up into four grades of 25 and set our price points for each of those grades based on where they sat in the ranking.”
The RamSelect app quickly and accurately assesses lists of rams using the objective data from Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) to identify which rams best fit the criteria set by the user.
“In RamSelect we stuck with the default index settings for fine/medium Merino for all traits except for fleece weight and growth, both of which we lifted the emphasis to the 50% mark on their respective slider bars, and parasite resistance to the 7% mark,” he said.
“On sale day Allan and I then visually inspected the full offering and were able to mark which rams were physically suited to our hillier country and remove from the list those we didn’t like as much. If they passed our strict visual criteria they retained the grade we generated using RamSelect and this grade became the basis for a price limit in the auction.”
Mr Kent purchased eight rams at an average of $1300 for use over his 19-micron Merino flock, at a sale in which Hazeldean cleared 113 of 117 offered, with a top of $7500 and an average of $2077 from 40 registered bidders.
Mr Kent runs 4000 ewes, 1200 of which are joined to Merino sires and 2800 to Dohnes and Terminals. He plans to use RamSelect.com.au again early in the new year when purchasing Dohne rams for use over his crossbred flock.
“I found it really useful to go into the sale knowing how the animals ranked for my needs before I got there. It was really easy to use and I liked the fact that you could save and print your list to use as a reference point on sale day,” he said.
The Sheep CRC operates as part of the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s CRC program. It is acollaboration of 40 organisations from across industry, government and the commercial sector, and includes producer groups, farm advisers, universities and research organisations, meat processors and retailers. It developedRamSelect.com.au in conjunction with Telstra, Pivotal Labs of San Francisco, and the NSW Department of Primary
More information is available at www.ramselect.com.au or www.sheepcrc.org.au.
Media contact: Michael Thomson on 07 4927 0805 / 0408 819 666