2009 1119nov2

$60k profit from 3000 commercial ewes?

AbacusBio consultants Bruce McCorkindale and Tim Byrne recently completed an analysis to look at the impact of maximising the use of high genetic merit terminal sires, plus maternal sires selected for improved carcase attributes, on an above average commercial ewe flock.

The base flock starting point featured 70kg ewes, 140% lambing, 18kg carcase weight lambs with an average kill date of 21st February from a 15th April mating date – so all in all a pretty good performance level.

The final result from utilising high merit terminal and maternal genetics was a potential gain in farm gross margin of $66,000 per annum. Around $27,000 of this came from the use of the terminal sires over 40% of the ewe flock, and the balance from the maternal influence.

The gains came from multiple, incremental impacts rather than one big obvious impact, and it came using exactly the same feed supply as the base farm. All the shifts in performance were backed up by both genetic trend information and actual on-farm performance of commercial ewes on a stud property utilising these genetics.

The influence of the terminal rams over maternal rams was to lift average lamb weaning live weight by 3kg and post weaning growth rates by 15%. Hybrid vigour also increased lamb survival and lambing % by 3%. A further 20% lift in growth rate is due to the quality of the high merit rams used (this meant January lamb growth rates of 220g/day compared to 160g/day).

The accumulated impact of this was that the average kill date for these lambs is 37 days earlier than the maternals at the same carcase weight.

The combination of greatly increased drafts of lambs at weaning and earlier sales results in a significant saving of feed which is then available for other profitable uses e.g. increasing carcase weights, finishing store lambs, or running a few more ewes.

Some key points:

  • Only terminal rams from a flock that has been making investment in genetic progress will be able to deliver results like these.
  • The analysis highlights that it is well worthwhile paying a premium for top terminal genetics, and that
  • It is still possible to make substantial progress behind the farm gate.