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Charmac Merinos deliver the hybrid vigour kick

July 7, 2013

Paul and Dorothy Creek have introduced Charmac Merinos to their Bond ewe flock for hybrid vigour and wool quality.Blending genetics in an open-ended composite designed to suit a 450mm rainfall environment keeps life interesting for Paul Creek.

The mixed farmer from Bidgeemia, south of Lockhart, has taken advantage of heterosis, or hybrid vigour, in his sheep and cattle breeding program for many years.

In the sheep flock, he maintains a dual purpose Bond ewe base with a meat component, and uses Charmac Merino rams to give a hybrid vigour kick, with the progeny joined to terminal rams.

Paul admits to being fascinated by genetics, but preferring the practical side to the theoretical.

“I’m not afraid to crossbreed, the advantages are higher production and liveweight - the key is to use good quality stock,’’ he said.

Paul and his wife Dorothy farm a family holding of 1000ha, comprising red rising loam soils in a 450mm rainfall zone. The original farm has been in the Creek family for 100 years.

A cropping enterprise of wheat, canola and barley dovetails with 75 composite cows and 1000 Bond ewes.

The autumn-winter calving beef herd is Australis (a South Devon and Angus composite) crossed with Red Poll bulls for a self-replacing solid red female, and using a Charolais bull for terminal progeny.

The winter calves are finished on grazing wheat crops before being sold as weaners, while the sheep are grazed on clover or lucerne pastures.

An extensive program of direct seeding along fencelines, floodways and in remnant areas provides stock shelter and biodiversity.

 “Being dual purpose, we can turn off the Bond wether lambs while older ewes are joined to terminal sires and the progeny sold at Corowa,’’ Paul said.

“We are not so concerned about wool cut but have worked on increasing wool quality and length, and reducing micron.

“We have taken the flock from 26-27 micron to 22 with average fleece weights of 5.2kg.’’

Prime SAMM rams were introduced to the flock seven years ago, with the ewe progeny joined to a terminal sire.

The SAMM-Bond cross ewes were run separately and joined to Primeline Maternal composite rams. The wether progeny, averaging 26kg carcass weight, sold recently at Corowa for $149, with the tops to $160.

“We kept the ewe lambs and joined them to a Southdown-Texel-Charollais cross ram at 45kg and they scanned at 66 per cent in lamb,’’ Paul said.

To add to the diverse genetic pool, naturally bare breeched South African Merino rams were introduced from Leon and Sandra Martin’s Charmac Merino stud, Table Top, as an alternative.

The Pindari blood Bond ewes were joined to Charmacs for a 100 per cent lamb marking.

“The Charmac’s better quality wool gives us bigger fleece lines line rather than keeping the SAMM-Bond fleeces separate,’’ Paul said.

“We like the Charmac’s high fertility, quick growing lambs and bare breech as we want to phase out mulesing altogether in the long term.

“We had no problems lambing and they have a nice loose skin.’’

The Charmac rams had been ultra sound scanned for carcass traits to average 21.75sqcm eye muscle area and 3.6 per cent intramuscular fat.

Joining starts on November 1, with ewes pregnancy scanned mid-February. Dry ewes are rejoined to terminal sires, scanned in May, and empty ewes sold.

Paul’s brother, Ron Creek, Australian WoolNetwork wool and sheep specialist, classes the flock and was impressed with the Charmac’s growth and fertility when asked to grade rams for Leon Martin.

“They have the ability to produce killable wether lambs at a much younger age,’’ Ron said.

He said the advantage of no mulesing meant wether lambs would not receive a setback.

“There are definitely orders in the market for unmulesed wools and there are signs, while not major, of better price levels,’’ Ron said.

Charmac principals Leon and Sandra Martin have valued added to their unmulesed wool by producing an innovative fabric called Wool Charne.

Mr Martin said commercial and public demand had been strong since the first consignment of Wool Charne material was released in March.

“In that short span of time, we have received inquiries from leading fashion houses in Australia and Italy,’’ Mr Martin said.

-Kim Woods