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Superior genetic gain can help the bottom line for farmers

A South Otago ram breeder has collaborated with AbacusBio consultants Tim Byrne and Bruce McCorkindale on a project to prove that sheep farmers can improve their bottom line by up to 35 percent, simply by using high-performance terminal and maternal sires.

The project investigated how much value commercial sheep farmers would gain by fully utilising their genetics and mating more ewes to terminal sires.

Garth Shaw and his wife Chris used a breed of terminal rams they call meatmaker that they have developed from a poll dorset-texel cross and their own Wharetoa maternal breed developed from a coopworth-texel cross.

The first stage of the project looked at the impact of using Wharetoa's meatmaker terminal sires over either 10 percent or 40 percent of the baseline ewe flock.

By using meatmaker rams over just 10 percent of the flock, the gross margin was close to $8000 and using these rams over 40 percent of the flock produced an annual gross margin of $27,000.

Although there was no change in average carcass weights, the analysis showed a significant increase in early sales of lambs at weaning and brought the average kill date forward by five weeks. The feed saved by the earlier kill date was used to generate additional income.

In the second stage of the project when the meatmaker terminal rams were mated with the Shaws' own Wharetoa maternal ewe flock, the gross margin increased to $66,000 a year, an increase in earnings before interest and tax of 35 percent.

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