As I suspect is the case with most dedicated fine woolgrowers, our focus has been on producing white, soft-handling, deeply crimped wool, which we have succeeded in doing. However with very low premiums in recent years for fine wools we have had to look at a more dual purpose type sheep. While wool prices were good, it was easy to forgive low lambing percentage, high dag levels, and high maintenance type sheep. This is no longer the case. In a bid to improve our flock about 4 years ago we took part in a sheep genetics training course to help us understand how ASBV’s work and how to use them to our advantage and hopefully bring some more predictability into our breeding program. We had been breeding our own flock rams via A.I. programs using sires from some top performing studs with mixed and sometimes unexpected results. We wanted to improve the fertility, doing ability and worm resistance of our sheep. These are all traits that cannot be seen by looking at the animal, only by looking at the ASBV’s for WEC, fat depth, eye muscle, scrotal circumference etc., can you get any indication at all of the genetic contribution a given animal will make towards improving these traits in your flock. Whilst it can be tempting to purchase big, fat impressive looking animals at ram sales, these sheep have most likely never had to cope with high stocking rates, high worm challenge, high rainfall, or any adversities at all in their lives and in all likelihood they will struggle to cope in commercial conditions. We found Anderson Rams while searching for our required traits on the merino select website. For the traits we require we have found a good selection of Anderson sale rams that are in the top 5% of rams tested, and in the 2014 drop rams there are over 27000 tested rams on the site. We have purchased Anderson Rams for five years in a row now, and have 3 ½ year old progeny on the ground. The results have been very pleasing. The Anderson progeny are plainer bodied and better doing animals with open faces and free growing wool. It is also extremely pleasing to observe a mob of weaners at the end of winter that are not “covered” in dags and a good number of them almost completely free of dag. We are now quite excited about the future advancement of our flock with the use of Anderson genetics.
Tim & Rosie Rokebrand, Edenhope, Vic.