Producing higher value wool through a transition from Romney to Merino crossbred i: Flock dynamics, feed demand, and production of lambs and wool

Farrell, L. J.; Tozer, P. R.; Kenyon, P. R.; Ramilan, T.; Cranston, L. M.

Small Ruminant Research 192: 106212

2020


ISSN/ISBN: 0921-4488
DOI: 10.1016/j.smallrumres.2020.106212
Accession: 071067454

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Abstract
Data suggests crossbreeding a Romney ewe flock with Merino sires to achieve a second-cross 3/4 Merino 1/4 Romney (3/4M 1/4R) flock could reduce wool fibre diameter to take advantage of increasing medium wool (fibre diameter > 24 mu m and < 30 mu m) prices and multi-year supply contracts. It is currently not known how sheep numbers, feed demand, and production would change during such a whole flock breed transition. A bio-economic system-dynamics modelling study was conducted to simulate the breed transition with low or high (24 % vs. 35 % of crossbred ewe lambs not retained at each of two selection events) lamb selection intensity and either consistent (132 % for all flocks) or breed specific (132 %, 120 %, and 114 % for the Romney, <1/2> Merino 1/2 Romney, and 3/4M 1/4R flocks, respectively) lambing rate. The Romney flock was replaced with an equivalent 3/4M 1/4R flock with either an average fibre diameter of 26 mu m after seven years or an average fibre diameter of 24 mu m after ten years of transition with low or high lamb selection intensity, respectively. Sheep numbers, lambs sold, and wool production peaked after seven and eight years after transition start with low and high lamb selection intensity, respectively.