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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
Buying rams from a bloodline option identified in Steps 2, 3 and 4 must be practical. Examples of constraints are;
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.
A more comprehensive version of this information is available in a Primefact:
A primefact oulining the bloodline results is also available: Merino bloodlines a comparison based on wether trial results 2006 – 2016