Breeding Goals

At Challara, we aim to breed an ‘all purpose’ animal using the key principles we have learnt with our long association (22 yrs) with Dr Jim Watts.

Benchmarking is an important tool at Challara when selecting advanced genetics. Challara Merino Stud began showcasing Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV) from Sheep Genetics for the 2011 ram sale. Measurements of key traits began in 2005.

In terms of breeding goals, we are ‘striving ahead’ in the following key areas using the latest tools and technology:

  • Long & Soft, Deep Crimping Wool
  • Early Maturity
  • Fertility
  • Worm Resistance

Wool Attributes

Challara’s overarching objective has been to breed a plain-bodied Merino with high levels of wool fibre density and fibre length and superior quality.  Classing the sheep right is the key to achieving the breeding goals.  We have been shown that skin biology is the key to a highly productive and profitable animal.  We do not have any fleece rot in our adult sheep and we are finding that our sheep are naturally less susceptible to fly strike.  Along with this ease of management, we have also been increasing the average length of wool, the density is improving and the micron is stable with a tendency to decrease.  Testament to this progress is the fact that we had to move to shearing twice per year in March 2012.

Early Maturity/Maturity

Using ASBV’s rams with high post weaning weights are identified which enables their progeny to be turned off faster to market.  Muscle scanning is also another routing test  carried out on the rams and we have seen a significant increase in the eye muscle depth, relative to the body weight & the fat measurement since the we began testing these carcass traits in 2005.  In recent years, stud ewe weaners have also been muscle scanned at their 200 day weight.  Sheep research scientists have noticed a correlation between good dual purpose/carcass traits and worm resistance, which we also test for.

Length of body is another positive attribute with Challara’s sheep.  This mature body weight is a good selling point in the saleyards >they are productive sheep & are also better suited for the shipping wether market here in W.A.

Fertility

Merinos bred at Challara are more fertile than a traditionally bred Merinos.  This is attributed to their plain bodies & open faces.  Mating the ewe weaners is also showing up the fertility at a young age.  We have had lambing percentages from 50-70% when mating them for 2 cycles at 8-9 months of age.  Sheep research has also shown that a positive fat measurement on the Merino Select ASBV will improve lamb survival, especially in tougher conditions.

Worm Resistance

Merinos bred at Challara are more fertile than a traditionally bred Merinos.  This is attributed to their plain bodies & open faces.  Mating the ewe weaners is also showing up the fertility at a young age.  We have had lambing percentages from 50-70% when mating them for 2 cycles at 8-9 months of age.  Sheep research has also shown that a positive fat measurement on the Merino Select ASBV will improve lamb survival, especially in tougher conditions.

Regarding Mulesing

Challara has naturally selected a plain bodied sheep, which enables their clients to make their own decisions when it comes to mulesing lambs.  Our current practice and one that we believe in is a small mules with the addition of “Trisolfen” pain relief.  From our perspective, this is the best animal welfare practice.  The reasons being >less urine stain& chemical application during favourable fly-strike conditions.

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  • “It was only our second year buying at the sale, but we were impressed with the progeny on the ground from last year’s sale.  The SRS breeding is a real positive and the wool cut is very important to us.” Mr Ackland …


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