Maximizing fine wool income
Wool producers considering management options need to balance the benefits against costs. Options developed by scientists may realise extra returns but may also involve extra costs. Their adoption by farmers will depend on attitudes towards the risk of spending more to earn more. With high interest rates, the cost/benefit of an option needs to be clear cut. Few runholders record the amount of wool produced per class (and breed) of sheep, so often decisions about stock management are made without good objective data (Kerr and Lefever, 1983). Hill and high country farmers in the South Island receive 40-50 percent and 60-70 percent respectively of their gross income from wool (Kerr and Lefever, 1983). The most numerous sheep breeds are Merinos (44-50 percent) and Halfbreds (33-44 percent). The wool production of a flock depends mainly on its genetic worth or estimated breeding value (EBV), the feed it consumes and its health status. The income derived from this wool depends on the quantity and quality of the wool produced, its preparation and marketing. This paper outlines some basic principles in all these areas. The genetic worth of a breeding flock is determined equally by the EBV of rams and ewes used. In a flock breeding its own rams (e.g. studs) the genetic improvement in the flock is heavily influenced by ram quality, as about 80 percent of the total selection pressure (differential) is achieved from ram selection. Similarly in a commercial flock, genetic improvement is largely influenced by the choice of sire source, rather than flock ewe selection. This paper deals with ram management and breeding and selection policies, because they are critical to genetic progress. Most wool returns are obtained from ewes and/or wethers. Stock nutrition determines how much of the genetic potential for wool production is achieved. Thus pasture development, grazing management and feed planning for different classes of stock are also discussed. Flock health management and wool preparation are briefly discussed.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsfine wool; income maximisation; wool income; hill and high country; farmers; sheep breeds; wool production; ram management; genetic improvement; ram quality; wool industry; South Island high country
Fields of Research140201 Agricultural Economics; 070106 Farm Management, Rural Management and Agribusiness; 070202 Animal Growth and Development; 070204 Animal Nutrition; 070201 Animal Breeding; 070203 Animal Management
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