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Bulky bale fillers a winning formula at Geraldra

Animal Health Issues


May 14, 2014

Big, bulky bale fillers with wool quality and style are proving to be a winning formula for southern NSW woolgrowers, the Mattiske family.

 Alan, his wife Marie, son Rick and daughter Jill Baldwin benchmarked their Pooginook/Bundilla blood ewe flock through Australia’s biggest commercial genetic evaluation trial, the 2012-2014 Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge, with great results.

Their team of 30 wethers was among 60 teams from four states representing 32 different bloodlines comprehensively measured for wool and meat traits.
The Mattiske family finished in fifth place overall with a total sheep value (wool plus average mutton value) of $172.01 - $14.85 per head more profitable than the trial average.

At the 2014 shearing, the family’s wethers averaged 19.4 micron, had the third highest clean fleece weight of 4.4kg, a shorn body weight of 58.9kg and (five year average) wool value of $50.72.

In the trial’s meat component, the team achieved an average daily weight gain in the feedlot of 248gm. The wethers had the heaviest final live weight of 67kg at slaughter to give an overall lamb value of $123.61.

Also finishing in the top 10 was a Pooginook blood team entered by the Thackeray family, Woornack Pastoral Company, Young, NSW.

For the Mattiske family, the results quantified a focus on wool quality and style for the past decade on their Stockinbingal property, Geraldra.

Set in a 550mm rainfall zone, the predominantly cropping property of heavy black self mulching to red loam soils supports pastures of lucerne, clover and phalaris.

The flock of 6100 Merino and crossbred ewes has been based on Pooginook blood since 1972, with the introduction of Bundilla in 2008.

The family has continued with Pooginook genetics with five additional rams introduced in 2013.

Working with Pooginook classer David Taylor, the family began fleece weighing and side sampling the ewes in the year 2000 to reduce average micron from 22.5 to 20.2.

Classer Nev Kelly followed Mr Taylor and the flock is now under the care of classer Chris Bowman.

About 12 years ago, Mrs Baldwin could see the profit in building the ewe base compared to running a portion of wethers.

“The emphasis was placed on fertility and dual purpose traits to lift carcass value,’’ she said.

“By focusing on fertility, weaning percentage across the whole ewe flock has lifted from 99 to 111 per cent.

“In 2012, we were happy with how our sheep were performing at home but wanted to see how they would compare with other commercial flocks entered by passionate Merino breeders in the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge.

“The data to come out of the trial is useful for us, as we wanted to see if any of our breeding objectives needed to be changed.

“I was pretty thrilled on how the wethers performed and the results showed I need only make incremental changes.’’

Mrs Baldwin said the trial was highly regarded in the commercial Merino industry and the data would assist with marketing her Bundilla-Pooginook wether lambs and surplus ewes.

“There is definitely a good future in Merino sheep with the Merino ewe stacking up in profitability against the first cross ewe on improved pastures,’’ she said.
The performance of the Mattiske family’s wethers reinforced the dual purpose trait dominance of Pooginook blood sheep in the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challege.

Repeat Pooginook clients, Eric and Dianne McKenzie, of Bethungra, NSW, won the 2010-2012 PWMMC with the leading wool value of $56.02/head and one of the highest carcass values of $81.27/head.

Pooginook Merino stud has worked to push the boundaries on within flock reproductive performance by facilitating Bred Well Fed Well workshops this year.
The workshops held at Pooginook, Walbundrie and Forbes drew more than 86 Merino sheep businesses.

They follow on the heels of Lifetime Ewe Management and Bred Well Fed Well workshops in 2011-2013 across three states, spawning the establishment of five producer networks.

Pooginook stud manager John Sutherland said sheep producers were given hands on training on using superior genetics and nutrition to achieve improved reproductive performance.

“We are having a positive impact on individual flock performance through people applying principles they have learnt in the workshops,’’ Mr Sutherland said.

“I see that improvement in flock profitability as most important for the Merino industry.’’

-Kim Woods