New campaign encourages producers to boost Merino ewe base

The Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders is tonight launching a new campaign highlighting the profitability of Merinos as the ultimate dual‐purpose breed and encouraging producers to increase Merino breeding ewe numbers in their enterprise mix.

The campaign – titled Breed More Merino Ewes – acknowledges the Merino ewe as the backbone of the Australian sheep industry and that there are many industry businesses and organisations which have a common interest in the breed’s continued success.

It is the first national, industry‐supported campaign of its type in the Merino industry and targets the whole supply chain, from producers to exporters, to ensure there is a critical mass of the meat and wool supply that is integral to the industry.

The first two sponsors, partnering in the campaign launch, are Australian Wool Innovation at gold level and ProWay Livestock Equipment at silver, with more to be announced as the campaign progresses. 

AASMB chair Georgie Wallace, Tasmania, says the decision to launch the Breed More Merino Ewes campaign was sparked by the fact that Merinos have a great story to tell in profitability and performance.

“There are many producers achieving outstanding financial returns in terms of dollars per dry sheep equivalent per hectare through best practice flock management and business planning,” she said.

“We know that Merinos have the capacity to outperform other livestock enterprises and be competitive with returns from grain growing enterprises. Financial analysis is proving their profitability in different rainfall zones right across Australia.

“For example, 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, while in the six‐year sheep profitability trial at Elmore, Victoria, Merinos had the highest dollars per DSE return at up to $70, compared to other groups at up to $61.”

Campaign sponsor Australian Wool Innovation chief executive officer Stuart McCulloch says the organisation was quick to support the campaign because of the need to increase the Merino ewe flock to take advantage of the enormous global fibre and food opportunities in future.

“To do this, Australian Wool Innovation has made the strategic decision to focus heavily on increasing the reproductive efficiency of the Merino with the aim of lifting the average weaning rate in Merino‐to‐Merino joining by three percent in the next three years,” he said.

“Also, our recent announcement to extend the Lifetime Ewe Management course to a further 1500 woolgrowers over the next three years builds on what has been the most successful sheep extension program in the proud history of the Australian sheep industry with participants significantly lifting weaning rates across the board.”

As part of the campaign, AASMB is compiling facts and figures on the profitability of the dual‐purpose breed and a series of case studies outlining the superior returns that Merinos are delivering. More information is available at

Why our campaign launch sponsors support Merinos …

Gold – Australian Wool Innovation

“As the research, development and marketing body for the wool industry, Australian Wool Innovation invests to increase the profitability and sustainability of the industry. The company is owned by and run on behalf of more than 30,000 Australian woolgrowers. Australia was largely put on the world stage on the back of the Merino. It is an animal that has delivered enormous wealth to this country and has been carefully bred for all Australian conditions. It is also well placed to help Australian farmers make the most of both the enormous global fibre and food opportunities into the future.”

Stuart McCullough, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Wool Innovation

Silver – ProWay Livestock Equipment

“The Merino ewe is the backbone of the Australian sheep industry, operating in a range of climates and geographic locations across Australia. She fits into a number of different agricultural operations from mixed farming to dedicated wool growing, and from large scale pastoral operations to prime lamb production. ProWay has the advantage of travelling across Australia to design and build livestock handling facilities. We get to meet progressive producers, young and old, running profitable operations based on the Merino ewe. Our aim is to see more sheep being run and producers running profitable, safe and efficient operations in which modern, well designed sheepyards and shearing sheds play a major part.”

Joe Hoban, Company Director and Stockyard Designer, ProWay Livestock Equipment