The Elders Victorian Merino Sire Evaluation Trials
Mokanger are hosting the trial over 2008 and 2009. Since Mark Rayner purchased the 1700 hectare western Victorian, Cavendish property in 1992 he has been working with manager Shane Arnold to refine his micron range to differentiate his product in the commodity-driven wool market.
To reach this goal new bloodlines have been introduced, while improved pastures and changed lambing and shearing dates have also helped boost wool cuts, stocking rates and tensile strength. To date, the work has been successful. 300 stud ewes are artificially inseminated each year – 100 with Yalgoo, 100 with Cressbrook, (which was introduced in 2001 to further refine the genetics), and 100 with its own highest ranking ram. Stud progeny are fleece tested at 18 months. Wool is tested for micron, fleece weight, staple strength and style or trueness to type. Sheep are tested for body weight and worm egg counts and are ranked on the standard 20% micron plus staple strength index. All commercial flock hoggets are laser scanned for micron and fleece weight at the 18 month s hearing.
Sheep are rotationally grazed in mobs of 1500 to 2000 on 40ha paddocks and run in micron groups after the shearing at 18 months. Rotational grazing allows pastures time to regenerate, with 80ha of clover, phalaris and cocksfoot resown each year to keep pastures in top condition. About 10% of pasture has been sewn down to Lucerne and chicory to provide extra summer feed. Lambing has also been moved from July to late spring (October) to run more ewes.