How to choose a bloodline source

The following five steps in conjunction with the latest Merino bloodline results will assist a commercial wool producer to identify a ram source that will increase profitability.

1. Your flock breeding objective

Set your commercial flock's long term breeding objective. Commonly three traits are of major importance; fleece weight, fibre diameter & body weight. The objective can be a production target, for example - 'I wish to increase fleece weight by 10 per cent while maintaining my flock's current fibre diameter and body weight.' Or an economic statement, for example - 'Based on an 8 percent micron premium for finer wool I will place equal emphasis on reducing fibre diameter and increase fleece weight while maintaining body weight'.

2. Benchmark performance

Establish your current bloodline's performance relative to other bloodlines, that is Benchmark performance. Compare this perfromance to your flock's breeding objective and identify other bloodlines that match your objective.

  • Performance Objective: Find your current bloodline in Table 2 and use its code to locate the bloodlines on Figure 1. Don't use your flock's fleece weight and fibre diameter to locate onto Figure 1 as your environment will be different to the 'average' wether comparison environment used to calculate these results.
  • Economic objective: To benchmark your bloodline's economic performance, use the calculated financial performance if it matches your objective. A five-year median price (2011 to 2015 was used to calculate the financial performance of the bloodlines in Table 2 and Figures 4 to 7 of Primefact 1472.

3. Consider all traits

Your flock's long-term breeding objective for all traits must be considered. Although fleece weight, fibre diameter and body weight will be dominant in most breeding objectives, other traits will affect your choice of bloodlines. For example, wool quality traits (Table 2) may exclude a bloodline that looked good in Step 2. Traits not listed in Table 2 such as fleece rot resistance, reproductive rate and conformation will need to be considered.

4. Performance progress

The bloodline options identified in Steps 2 and 3 should be investigated. Their breeding objectives, selection practices and genetic progress in the last 10 years and coming 10 years may alter their performance relative to the results presented here. There is a 5 to 10 year lag between the bloodline's current performance and performance in these results. For the bloodlines you consider as options, discuss with a representative of the bloodline the results from their own performance monitoring system and the likely rate of progress in the future. Without this information it will be difficult to adjust the performance in these results to account for breeding progress.

5. Constraints

Buying rams from a bloodline option identified in Steps 2, 3 and 4 must be practical. Examples of constraints are;

  • price of rams,
  • availability of rams at the stud,
  • the time of year rams are available V's flock needs,
  • distance traveled to select rams, and
  • the availability of relevant information to help you select rams.

These constraints will often decide the selection of a ram source if several bloodlines have a similar rank based on the main traits in your breeding objective.

Download full version

A more comprehensive version of this information is available in a Primefact:

Bloodline results

A primefact oulining the bloodline results is also available: Merino bloodlines a comparison based on wether trial results 2006 – 2016