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Pooginook not shy of Australia’s biggest bloodline trial

Pooginook Bloodline

23rd March 2012

Three Pooginook blood flocks from the eastern seaboard are set to benchmark their genetics in the nation’s biggest Merino wether trial.

The Peter Westblade Memorial Merino challenge 2012-2014 has drawn 60 teams of 30 wethers from South Australia, Victoria and NSW. Challenge co-ordinator Craig Wilson, of Wagga Wagga, said the aim was to demonstrate under equivalent conditions, the relative productivity of a Merino flock for economically important traits. Mr Wilson said the trial, based at Temora and Collingullie, in southern NSW, would help producers make more informed decisions on their genetics.

This year, Pooginook-blood teams have entered from South Australia, NSW and Victoria. They include Twin Creek Pastoral, Kapunda, SA and Hugh Thackeray, Woornack Pastoral Company, Young, NSW.

Kym Mosey, of Twin Creek Pastoral, has been on the Pooginook bloodline since 2000 and runs 3000 Merino ewes in a 450mm rainfall zone. He fattens about 800 wether lambs a year to 50kg liveweight, selling them over-the-hooks.

Mr Mosey said the trial would help him fine tune management practices to lift his sheep enterprise into the top 10 per cent. He said the Twin Creek breeding program focused on fertility and bodyweight for grain feeding wethers.

Each team of 30 wethers in the trial will be randomly split into two groups of 15 wethers and allocated into the wool and meat challenge. The wool challenge wethers will be evaluated over two years at the Temora Agricultural Research and Advisory Station, in southern NSW.

Data will be collected on micron, greasy and clean fleece weight, body weight, staple length and strength, and wool value. The meat challenge wethers will be shorn in April, backgrounded and then fed a full commercial feedlot ration from May to August. They will be transported to Fletchers International abattoir at Dubbo, NSW, and carcass data collected.

Mr Wilson said the 2010-2012 challenge had shown a range in net profit from feeding Merino lambs for meat, or to grow wool could be doubled by using high performance Merino genetics. Wethers in the latest intake will be displayed at a field day on March 8 at the Temora research station.

The Jerilderie-based Pooginook Merino Stud was represented by three teams in the 2010-2012 trial. They were Eric McKenzie, Bethungra, Victorian Bruce Perry and Rob Taylor, of Grenfell. Mr McKenzie took out the dollars per hectare value, using the average five year wool price, at the first shearing last April.

Eric and wife Dianne run 1750 Merino ewes, with older ewes averaging 20.3 micron and cutting average fleece weights of 8kg. The couple have bought Pooginook rams for the past 15 years. “I entered the trial to benchmark my operation and to find out what we needed to improve,’’ Mr McKenzie said. “Even though we are in the top 10 per cent, there is still a lot to learn.’’

Pooginook business manager John Sutherland said the wether trial was a valuable industry-wide educational tool. “We believe benchmarking our clients’ sheep and entering sire evaluation trials is an important part in continually assessing the breeding direction of the stud,’’ Mr Sutherland said.


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