Key issues that affect returns from Merinos

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1996
Authors:M. Shallow
Journal:Wool Technology and Sheep Breeding
Pagination:204 - 209
Date Published:1996

The major factor affecting return from a self-replacing Merino ewe flock in South Australia is commodity price and its consequent effect on grazing area available to the sheep flock. Productivity from this flock is dependent on pasture availability which depends on soil type and quality and fertiliser application. Management factors such as time of lambing, time of shearing, flock structure and stocking rate are secondary to these factors, but still assume importance in ultimate returns from the sheep flock. In an environment where wool growing is at an optimum, and market price stays above 700 cents per kilogram, the most profitable wool producer will run a self-replacing Merino flock where ewes form no more than 40% of total flock structure, and 30% of ewe hoggets are culled. Wethers are kept in this flock while sound mouth, and stocking rate is optimised by pasture density and fertiliser application. The same producer will lamb in July or later and shear in summer/autumn, and provide fodder crops for weaners. This producer will also optimise clip preparation from the flock and ensure that worm and lice control are a top priority. These goals can only be achieved where sheep producers are regularly measuring production parameters from the sheep flock and setting production targets. A key target should be to reach 1 kg of greasy wool per dry sheep equivalent for each 10 mm of growing season rainfall per hectare. In a 500 mm rainfall area the flock should be cutting 50 kg of greasy wool per hectare, at over 4 kg of greasy wool per dry sheep equivalent.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith