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Merinos … the most profitable breed

Independent research and field trials show that Merinos are the ultimate dual-purpose sheep and are a highly profitable addition to any farming enterprise.

The Breed More Merino Ewes campaign highlights Merinos are achieving profitable results for producers compared to other breeds and enterprises across Australia in a range of production systems and rainfall zones.

The Merino Stat File

  • Merinos at Elmore, Victoria, in 2015 had the highest $/DSE return at $69 and $70 compared to the other groups at $57‐$61, as part of the six‐year breed comparison trial.
  • Merinos in the inaugural Booborowie Feedlot Competition recorded average weight gains of up to 307 grams per day during the competition, among the highest weight gains among any of the placegetters.
  • Merinos on SA’s Yorke Peninsula are making an average gross margin of $94 per hectare per 100 millimetres of growing season rainfall.
  • Merinos near Lake Grace in WA are benchmarked as making $200 to $250/ha, from a DSE of 4‐6/ha in 2015‐16.
  • Merinos in Tasmania in 2015 returned an operating income of about $70/DSE for wool, compared with $60/DSE for prime lamb and $50/DSE for beef.

Merinos deliver the highest returns, outperforming other livestock enterprises

For Tasmanian producer David Taylor – who benchmarks his operation through Holmes Sackett – Merinos are generating an income of about $70/DSE for wool, compared with $60/DSE for prime lamb and $50/DSE for beef.

“Over the past three years, the net profit per DSE from an average wool flock has outperformed an average prime lamb flock by about $2.30/DSE – an 18% higher return. The net profit/DSE over an average beef herd is even greater at about $2.90/DSE – or a 22% higher return,” he said.

In addition, Merinos topped a six year sheep profitability trial at Elmore, Victoria. The 2015 trial report, Ewes for the Future – Lambs, Wool and Profit, stated: “With lower risk, particularly in tight seasons when significantly higher feed needs are taken into account, the Merino had the highest $/DSE return at $69 and $70 compared to the other groups at $57‐$61.”

Merinos are competitive with returns from grain growing enterprises

Western Australian Wheat Belt Region farm consultant Ed Riggall says benchmarking figures for Merinos in WA’s wheat belt region ranged from $35 to $40‐plus DSE per hectare in 2015‐16.

“In the Lake Grace region, with a DSE of 4‐6/ha, producers were benchmarked as making $200 to $250/ha which, next to 2 tonnes/ha of wheat or barley, is a very comparable enterprise,” he said.

Meanwhile in South Australia, Yorke Peninsula sheep producer Martin Ramsay’s current gross margin is $94 per hectare per 100 millimetres of growing season rainfall.
“It wasn’t economically viable for me to run cropping in comparison to livestock due to machinery costs, and not having any machinery agencies or mechanics nearby to service or fix machines when needed. Now three‐quarters of my income comes from livestock.”

Merino Success Stories

Many Merino producers are achieving outstanding financial returns – in terms of dollars per dry sheep equivalent or per hectare – through best practice flock management and business planning.

Here’s a snapshot of what producers from across Australia are saying about Merinos …

daniel schuppan sa1Daniel Schuppan, South Australia

Merinos offer farmers a profitable option with the ability to produce a gross margin of up to $60 per dry sheep equivalent for self-replacing Merino flocks in the cereal zone according to 2016-17 Sheep’s Back Benchmarking Program figures, says Landmark Animal Production Specialist Daniel Schuppan.  Read More

simon fowler sa1Simon Fowler, Tasmania

The Fowler family are a force to be reckoned with in an era where big corporate businesses are slowly nudging out family-owned and operated farming systems. Read More

david taylor tas1David Taylor, Tasmania

“Over the past three years, the net profit per DSE from an average wool flock has outperformed an average prime lamb flock by about $2.30/DSE – an 18% higher return. The net profit/DSE over an average beef herd is even greater at about $2.90/DSE – or a 22% higher return.”    Read More

martin ramsay sa1Martin Ramsay, South Australia

Merino profitability on my farm is driven by three key factors – stocking rate, bodyweight and fleeceweight. While these key factors vary year‐on‐year, I’ve seen a steady improvement in all of them since I’ve been benchmarking. This takes the guess work out of measuring profitability and you can get a clearer picture of where you’re going season to season.”  Read More

ed riggall wa1Ed Riggall, Western Australia

“From an economic perspective, sheep meat and wool indicators are fantastic. If you’re not enthusiastic about the prospects of sheep meat and wool now, you’ll never be. On a sheep confidence index I would rate it as a 10 out of 10.”  Read More

brent sophie1Brent Flood, Victoria

“Merinos have the wool cut, the wool quality and they are the backbone of the first‐cross ewe industry. For the amount you can run per acre they are a very profitable article. They have a genuine profitability. One semi‐load of wool is the equivalent of 40 loads of barley in the current market.”

james derrickJames Derrick, New South Wales

“I’ve done the calculations and Merinos come out on top. I’m switching back for ease of management, it’s much simpler and more efficient to run a single breed enterprise. I feel the Merino lambs will more than fill the requirements previously filled by the crossbred lambs.”  Read More

More merino success stories

Monumental season for SA Merino rams

Merinos show dual-purpose strength in Booborowie competition

Dual-purpose Merinos prove profitable at Elmore

Reasons for merino confidence