Our merino flock is based on indexed ewes from Geelong Park and Roxby. We have an open nucleus of selected ewes used for individual matings, to breed rams. Semen from top ranking rams has been used occasionally to enhance our breeding program. A data manager and consultant help us make targeted breeding decisions and provide validated indexes for clients when selecting rams. We sell rams privately from February and have sold semen to WA, QLD, SA and Victorian clients.
Breeding Objective: to hold micron (adult average 17), increase staple strength and fleece weight (>6kgs adult average) whilst continuing to select bright wool and sound fertile sheep.
We have moved to a 5% + SS index, redistributing the selection pressure to increase staple strength and wool cut, with the micron held, a decrease in WEC, a slight increase in body weight and number of lambs weaned. We then class on body structure and wool traits – there is no tolerance for unsourable color, wool rot or poor character wool. Dag and wrinkle scores must be 2 or less.
As such we consistently have soft handling, sound, bright wool that is keenly sought. The successful bidder for our wool is usually Schneider Group or New England Wool (Successori Reda Spa and Vitale Barberis Canonico Spa, Italy). They are leading names in the processing and trading of fine wool and providing superior and consistent product.
Why is Kia Ora not using one of the standard MERINOSELECT indexes?
We have worked through a process where we applied the outcomes from the standard MERINOSELECT indexes (MP+, FP+ and DP+) and compared these to the previously used indexes. Based on our commercial sheep production and the last 5 year average wool price the 5%+SS index generates higher projected returns.
These are exciting times for Kia Ora with the genetic gains made being quantifiable and we will continue to push our program to deliver more.
To ensure we maintain our disease free status we have kept a closed flock since 2003 with new genetics only being obtained through artificial insemination (frozen semen).