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.

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Dual‐purpose Merinos prove profitable at Elmore

A SIX-year trial run by the Elmore Field Days in northern Victoria proved that dual-purpose Merinos remain one of the most profitable livestock enterprises in a medium-rainfall region, averaging total returns of $70 to $69 per dry sheep equivalent, $8-$9/DSE above its closest competitor.

The trial, which began in 2009 and concluded in 2014, investigated five breed types – Border Leicester-Merino, Loddon Valley Merino, Centre Plus Merino, Dohne and SAMM. Ewes were crossed to terminal rams, either White Suffolks or Poll Dorsets. Consultant Kieran Ransom, formerly with Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Bendigo, Victoria, wrote a paper on the trial, titled A Commercial Comparison of Ewe breeds for Reproduction, Wool and Lamb Growth, with co-authors Forbes Brien and Wayne Pitchford.

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2016 Australian Merino Pairs Champion

Congratulations to the Hogg family of Navanvale stud in West Australia whose magnificent Merino Pair entrants took out the National Australian Merino Pairs Championship title at the 2016 Australian Sheep & Wool Show in Bendigo. 

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Marion Gibbins, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Association of the Stud Merino Breeders from 2013 to March 2016, was awarded an honorary life membership of the AASMB on Friday 8th of April at the Balmoral Sire Evaluation Field day at “Mepungah”, Wannon, west of Hamilton, Victoria.

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Merinos show dual-purpose strength in Booborowie competition

MERINO lambs made their mark at Booborowie in a competition held in early 2016 in South Australia, performing extremely well against a line‐up of 69 teams and proving the breed’s excellent dual‐purpose capabilities.

A commercial Merino lamb team recorded average weight gains of up to 307 grams per day during the competition, among the highest weight gains among any of the placegetters in any of the three sections. Third‐place in the commercial Merino/SAMM/Dohne section went to the Pratt family’s Merino lambs, which recorded a 63.7 percent average gain, a dressing percentage of 48.3pc and an average lamb carcase value (including the skin) of $174.40.

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The Australian Merino enterprise is in good form with strong returns.  When reviewing the data from several sources on the profitability of the Merino, there is every reason to support the Merino and be confident in its achievement. 

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Sheep Handling Challenge


 “With the motto ‘Investing In The Future’ president of the WA Stud Merino Breeders Association, Steven Bolt, said, the Western Australian merino industry promotion this year has included introducing events that encourage and engage students with merino sheep.   

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Have you ever wondered why some animals consistently perform while others fade ...

Nominations are being accepted by the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA) for the 2016 joinings of the AWI / AMSEA Merino Lifetime Productivity Project.

Have you ever wondered why some animals consistently perform year in and year out whilst others fade with time? 

Are there any factors that might help us to better predict superior lifetime performance at young ages?  With the growing influence of the lamb industry on Merinos, what’s the impact of selecting for growth, reproduction and carcase traits on lifetime wool productivity?  Do animals selected on breeding values at a young age have better lifetime productivity?

An exciting opportunity exists for ram breeders to be part of the Merino Lifetime Productivity project that aims to answer these and many more industry questions.  A partnership between AWI and AMSEA will see sires entered into four standard sire evaluation sites and all their ewe progeny retained for annual joining, classing and lifetime assessment.

 Would you like to nominate your top sires, good all-rounders, trait or index leaders, good doers or show winners in this important trial?

The sites will operate like a standard sire evaluation site – following the rigorous and independently assessed measured and visual assessment protocols.  At the conclusion of the standard sire evaluation (generally once progeny are between 18 and 24 months of age) AWI will support the ongoing measurement and visual classing of all ewe progeny through 4-5 joinings and annual shearings.  The number of ewes joined to each sire will be increased to 90 ewes to ensure that there will be sufficient ewe progeny numbers throughout life.

Entrants at these sites will receive a full range of results; extensive professional classer assessed performance and within site breeding values as well as ASBVs.  Regular field days will be held at sites for ram owners to inspect their sire’s progeny, receive updates on the progress of the project and network with fellow Merino producers.

The broader aims of the Merino Lifetime Productivity project are to:

  • Validate the current breeding value technology across sheep types and environments
  • Where necessary, provide the evidence and data such that current systems can be enhanced to more accurately predict lifetime productivity.
  • Provide the industry in a commercial environment the cost benefit relationship of measuring multiple adult traits throughout the lifetime of an animal.
  • Provide a substantial amount of reproduction records to the MERINOSELECT database, allowing the industry to more accurately assess the relationship between all the components that make up lifetime productivity.
  • Provide a common focus for a wide range of ram breeders with differing breeding philosophies.

We are looking for a range of sires to join in 2016 – and are taking nominations now. 

Sire entry will incur standard sire evaluation entry costs which range between $2500 - $3000 depending on the site.


  • Follow this link to the Merino Superior Sires website to download the Nomination Form and return by 20th of November
  • If selected – have 92 doses of semen available (the project will purchase at $10 per dose semen beyond that which is normally be required for a standard sire evaluation trial)

Need more information?

  • Please pick up the phone and call either Ben Swain, AMSEA Executive Officer on 0427 100 542 or, Anne Ramsay, Merino Lifetime Project Manager on 0400 368 448.


2015 Ram Sale Success

Merino ram sales have exceeded many expectations this spring selling season with most on property ram sales lifting on last year.  Sale highlights include of a top of $81,000 at the annual Willandra ram sale, a sell out at the Yarrawonga sale and the Adelaide ram sale averaging $8,997 with a top of $38,000 for a Moorundie ram, followed closely by White River at $37,000.  At the Adelaide sale 78 rams sold out of 89 offered.  And it is not only the rams that are popular, young Merino ewes sold to a top of $235 last week at the Hay, NSW sale with other lines also hitting the $200 mark.

For the first time in Australian history, and with figures now compiled for 2014, Australian Poll Merino rams outsold Merino rams.  The “all purpose” flexibility of the Australian Merino is now being better understood and showing the benefits of quality and quantity of wool fibre with meat characteristics that rival some meat breeds, particularly in traits such as eye muscle depth. With greater emphasis on fat traits and fertility the female progeny offer an improved maternal /replacement ewe for the flock.

The challenge is to ensure that the unique Australian Merino fleece qualities and quantity of cut are not compromised with the efforts to provide an all-rounder for the sheep industry.  Some of the earlier efforts at increasing the poll merino genetics proved this to be a challenge which has been met with strong measures to keep improving this fleece performance.

Willandra Top Priced Ram

Ross Wells with Will008xGP - Photo taken at Sheepvention 2015 by Marion Gibbins