Winning rams tick the boxes for trade & export markets
AWSA National Conference - February 19, 2014
A focus on commercial traits paid off for young stud sheep breeders Ian and Sarah James when they took out the inaugural ram lamb trade class at the Australian White Suffolk Association conference.
The couple entered a pen of three ram lambs by homebred sires from their Iona stud, Henty, Victoria, in the competition to reaffirm their breeding objectives of moderate birthweight, growth rate and structural correctness.
The pen of three ram lambs competition, judged by Alastair Day, Allendale Studs, Bordertown, South Australia, was a highlight of the Australian White Suffolk Association conference in Hamilton this week.
Conference co-ordinator Steve Milne said the commercially focused competition comprised two classes – rams suitable for producing either trade (20-24kg carcass weight) or heavyweight lambs (24kg carcass weight plus).
Mr Milne said judging was based on the trade and export Lambplan indices, visual assessment on conformation, skin quality, breed type, evenness and market suitability.
He said the competition was modelled on a similar event held at the Hamilton Beef Expo, and was an extra drawcard on the conference program.
The competition drew 10 trade and five export entries from Victorian, NSW and South Australian studs.
In the trade class, Iona stud took out first place, followed by Gemini, Werneth, Vic, in second place, Somerset stud, Bulart, Vic, third and Days Whiteface Suffolks, Bordertown, SA, in fourth.
Lachy and Lou Day, Days Whiteface Suffolks, took first placing in the export class, followed by Waratah stud, Branxholme, Vic, in second place, Gemini stud, third and Somerset, fourth.
Ian and Sarah James established their Iona stud (PHOTO RIGHT) in 2007 initially to breed White Suffolk rams for their commercial flock of 2000 ewes.
“We selected our entries on a visual basis from 96 rams and then narrowed them down on figures,’’ Mr James said.
“We have been using artificial insemination to keep the fat cover and birthweights right for people using them over Merinos.
“It was a huge surprise to win – we don’t show but sell rams privately into mainly Merino or composite ewe flocks.”
Export class winner Lachy Day (PHOTO BELOW) described the competition as “industry relevant’’ and entered as an educational and feedback exercise.
His June-drop rams were by three different sires and selected using a combination of visual appraisal and estimated breeding values.
“The rams scored well for structure – I’m a big fan of measured performance but foremost the rams must be structurally correct,’’ Mr Day said.
He said the challenge for the breed was to continue at the forefront of the prime lamb industry by adopting new technologies.
- Kim Woods