QPLU$ Merinos Trangie date

Merino breeders focused on increasing profit understand that of the many wool quality and production traits to be considered at selection time, just two traits, fleece weight and fibre diameter, account for around 90 per cent of the size of their wool cheque each year.

QPLU$ Merino selection lines are shedding light on which breeding objectives for fleece weight and fibre diameter have delivered the largest wool cheques over the past 10 years.

The results of research undertaken at Trangie Agricultural Research Centre also offer direction for future breeding strategies to maximise wool returns and will be on show again in early June.

“Breeding better Merinos is a serious business with the potential to dramatically increase the profitability of wool growing enterprises,” NSW Department of Primary Industries research officer Pat Taylor said.

“Fortunately these two profit drivers are inexpensive to measure and are strongly inherited so careful selection will result in steady ongoing improvements in each,” he said.

“Because both contribute to fleece value, relatively small improvements in fleece weight and fibre diameter yield larger increases in the size of the wool cheque.

“This applies to the current and future generations of the flock.

Having prioritised these two traits, breeders need to determine how much selection to apply to each.

The options range from maintaining average fleece weight and reducing fibre diameter to improving both traits together to holding fibre diameter at current levels and increasing fleece weight as fast as possible.

In the end the decision should be determined by the breeder’s predictions of the premiums to be paid for wool one to two microns finer than their current flock average over the next five to 10 years.

Like many commodities, prices for fine wool are variable and difficult to predict.

The results of the research will be presented together with a display of the sheep from each selection line – 1100 in total, in full wool – at the final field day for the 10-year breeding project on June 7 at Trangie Agricultural Research Centre. Presentations start at 9.30am.

“Certainly many producers will be interested in the industry line which used a balance of both measured and visual selection traits to achieve substantial improvements,” Roseville Park Merino Stud principal, Matthew Coddington, said.

Mr Coddington has encouraged both stud and commercial producers to attend the field day and see the results for themselves.