2013 Australian wool fashion awards

The 2013 'Australian Wool Fashion awards' were held on March 16th at 'Saumarez Homestead', Armidale, NSW, Australia....

What does the future hold?

The Charmac Merino Stud Launch on 12.10.10 was the first step in introducing the Charmac Merino...

How will it be used?

The main criteria for the Charmac Market Plan involves seeking expressions of interest from...

What is The Charmac?

We were fortunate to start with a base of a plain-bodied merino developed by the...

Maternal pedigrees captured accurately

Lamb survival and ewe mothering ability are under the spotlight at Charmac Merinos with the stud using Pedigree Matchmaker to capture maternal pedigree information.

Charmac Merinos has used Pedigree Matchmaker on ewes this year, with data collection completed by Exact Livestock.

Technical officer Belinda Steers said mothering-up lambs with ewes usually came at a high labour cost. Ms Steers said NSW DPI research had revealed the cost of one person mothering-up 1000 ewes during a six week lambing was $10-$25 a lamb. “DNA is the most accurate system of mothering and costs $15-$30 a lamb. But, there is no direct observation of lamb survival or ewe mothering ability,’’ she said.

The first trial to use sheep behavior to record maternal pedigees was carried out in 2005 on 52 ewes on a central NSW Merino stud. The program was refined and first offered commercially as Pedigree Matchmaker in 2008. Ms Steers said 78-100 per cent of lambs were matched up to their dam across all states and climates using Pedigree Matchmaker.

Essential on-farm equipment includes electronic ear tags, a race, an e-tag reader or data logger, and power. Animals must be trained pre-lambing using feed or water as an attractant and reward. The lambs follow the ewes through a draft fitted with an electronic reader, which records ear tag numbers with a time stamp.

“If you are lambing autumn or spring, it is best to train your ewes over summer,’’ Ms Steers said. “Have the lambs as young as possible as some breeds do gain early independence from their mother.’’ The data is then analysed at a cost of about $5 per lamb mothered-up. Speaking at a Charmac Merino field day, Ms Steers said trials with Merinos had revealed an accuracy of 70-80 per cent after one week, 80-92 per cent after two weeks, 85-95 per cent after three weeks and 90-96 per cent after four to five weeks.

Ms Steers said Pedigree Matchmaker gave stud and commercial producers feedback on what ewes were lambing and losing, and the better mothers.