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Education about Merino selection

Thursday 14th of August 2014

Ram selection occurs on just one day of the year but it can impact the genetic make-up and profitability of a sheep flock for years to come.

An upcoming RamSelect workshop, to be held at ‘Sunny View’, Bigga, on Tuesday September 2, will develop the skills of commercial producers to accurately and confidently select rams to meet their breeding objective and maximise their sheep enterprise return.

The workshop is to be hosted by Sunny View Poll Merino Stud owners Doug and Suellen Picker, who own and operate a 1200 hectare Poll Merino stud between Crookwell and Cowra in southern New South Wales (NSW).

Together with Doug’s parents, Ross and Shirley Picker, they run approximately 4500 Merino sheep in a self-replacing flock.

Mr Picker said the one-day RamSelect workshop would include presentations from breeding specialists, including principal consultant at Sheep Solutions in Leeton (NSW) Geoff Duddy, and owner of Pendarra White Suffolk Stud in Ardlethan (NSW), Murray Long.

"Selecting and buying rams are among the most important commercial decisions a sheep breeder makes each year," Mr Long said.

"This hands-on workshop has been designed to give commercial ram buyers more confidence in combining Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) with visual assessment to select rams that meet their breeding objective and offer value for money."

Also in attendance at the workshop will be accredited MERINOSELECT and LAMBPLAN scanner Trevor Pearce, delivering an ultrasound demonstration for muscle and fat characteristics.

He will be joined by Machallie McCormack from online grain trading platform, iGrain, who’ll offer workshop participants some insight into the latest grain outlooks.

Poll Merino rams will be on-hand during the workshop for practical demonstrations; however the information and selection process showcased is suited to producers selecting rams for all enterprise types.

Mr Picker, who has been involved with MERINIOSELECT breeding values for the past three years, said the one-day practical workshop should fill some education gaps for local community sheep producers.

"For a lot of wool producers around here, there is limited knowledge about ASBVs and how they can be most effectively used in breeding programs," he said.

"Hopefully we can create more awareness about ASBVs, and also stress the importance of muscle and fat characteristics and how they can improve a self-replacing Merino flock operation."

The workshops, which have been rolled out at locations across the state, are hosted by breeders and livestock service providers able to provide ongoing assistance to producers as they make these important decisions each year.

The course materials have been developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) and the NSW Department of Primary Industries with input from Sheep Genetics.

The Sheep CRC support for the delivery of these workshops aims to assist the professional development of genetics advisors and their clients across the sheep industry.

 To register to attend contact Doug and Suellen Picker at doug.picker@antmail.com.au or phone 02 48352322

 Registration is essential (maximum of 30 participants)

 Cost is $50 per business (include catering)

 More information is available online at www.sheepcrc.org.au

Media contact: Michael Thomson on 07 4927 0805 / 0408 819 666

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