Peter Wilkinson Comments in the Farm Weekly -October 2016

AS a dedicated Merino stud breeder, I am concerned about some issues within the wool industry. Firstly, I want to ask the question to all wool producers – why do you breed Merino sheep? And if they are important to your farm business, what type of Merino sheep will make you more money? Are you satisfied that you have proven results and they are improving your flock? Do you have high lamb survival rates? I am asking these questions because it’s always important to question what we are doing and ifthe sheep we are breeding are mproving in standard.  If this is happening in your flock,well done!

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“I understand the comment I wrote in the Farm Weekly is controversial.  Some people think I am too negative & critical about some points  I was trying to make.  I want to make it clear to readers that issues that I raised in the article come out of observation, personal experience and some facts which this broader industry may not be aware of.  It is not written to give offence to anyone, but primarily to get sheep breeders to question what they are doing and that they are improving their genetics from the knowledge they have.

Challara Poll Merino Stud has also decided it is in their best interests to continue with Sheep Genetics Australia (Merino Select), while striving to keep a high level of pedigree information to give a fair representation of how our sheep are really performing.”

I wrote the comment in the Farm Weekly from a position of integrity, with the goal of trying to lift some standards within the wool industry.  I am sorry if people misinterpret this message or take offence to it.

To clear one thing up, I do find it confusing that our actual clean fleece weights have increased in the last two years, but Merino Select is suggesting by their figures that we have decreased.  After speaking to the experts, I can only put the perceived worse YCFW Merino Select figures on our lack of pedigree information.  This apparently needs to be above 60% at least, in order to provide good accuracy levels.  Even though Challara has a good depth of genetics with syndicate sires, 40% pedigree information this year was obviously not enough to reflect the true performance of our animals.

I believe through providing good accuracy levels next year, our Merino Select figures will look more favourable.”

Peter Wilkinson

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