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You Probably Made At Least One of These Four Mistakes When Buying Rams This Season

The rams you buy this year will influence your flock for at least the next 10 years! Great if you make a good decision – not so great if you made a mistake.

If a breeder presented you with their own customised index – did you check it aligns to your own breeding objective?

Alternative to utilising an industry standardised index like the NZ Maternal Worth (NZMW) or NZ Terminal Worth (NZTW), some breeders will have their own unique customised index for ranking their rams.

Often a new index will be created if the breeder doesn’t necessarily agree with the industry standard, if they want to add new traits to the index, or if they feel that their ram buying customers have different/niche objectives compared to the wider industry.

If a breeder presents you with anything different to the NZMW/NZTW, you should always check you understand the response to selection you can expect from this new index.

  • How does it differ to the industry standard?

  • What direction will it take your flock?

  • What progress has your breeder made from going in this alternative direction?

  • How well correlated is it to the NZMW/NZTW indexes?

  • What traits does it include and not include?

  • How much pressure does it put on each of the traits?

Don’t forget – you go where you breeder is going. So be sure you know where that is!

Before you went off to look at rams this year, did you relook at the average merit of your current ram team, compare it with your 5-10 year breeding goals and use that to get clear on what you are looking for in your new players?

Often farmers will only think about the genetics of their rams a couple of times per year. When they are buying, and when they are about to be put for mating.

Here are a few questions you should be asking yourself BEFORE you buy your new rams for the year.

  1. Are you clear on your current ram team pros and cons for your flock? How do they match to your 5-10 year breeding goals?

  2. Do they have any downfalls that you need to correct?

  3. Have those figures changed much from when you first purchased those rams? (Indexes always bounce around a bit when the breeder provides more information on relatives)

  4. Do you have an idea of their average merit, so you can ensure you improve on that for this year?

You can check out the updated information on your current ram team using the Beef and Lamb Genetics Ram Finder Tool. You’ll just need the tag and flock for each ram. Reach out to me if you need a hand!

Did you check with Beef and Lamb Genetics to see what an average genetic merit ram is this season?

The best way for you to benchmark the merit of rams between ram breeders is using the NZ Maternal/Terminal Worth Indexes. Each year, Beef and Lamb Genetics will provide information on what the average merit of rams is for the current season. Taking this number to ram sales, allows you to quickly check if that breeder is above or below industry average.

The average merit of 2020 born young rams (as of Feb 2021) for NZMW is 1801. Check now – are your newly purchased rams above or below this? Here is a link to the percentile bands chart on the Beef and Lamb Genetics Website .

A couple more tips for this point..

  • Make sure you JUST look at the NZMW. If it has NZMW + (something like DPX (eczema), DPM (meat), DPF (worms) ) then the index will be inflated and you will not be comparing apples with apples.

  • If your breeder is not connected to the rest of the industry (through using outside sires or entering rams into the progeny tests) then you are comparing apples with pears. If you breeder is not connected, he/she cannot be benchmarked with other breeders as SIL cannot accurately calculate the performance of his/her rams outside of his/her own flock (ie. in a different environment).

Did you check your breeders genetic trend graphs?

Every breeder (as long as they are recording on SIL) has access to their own genetic trend graphs for each index and each trait reported on SIL. In my view, genetic trends are the simplest tool to get a snapshot of your breeders genetic profile.

  • Are their breeding indexes increasing every year (and therefore are they making genetic progress)?

  • What traits are increasing at a faster rate and what traits have stabilised?

  • How do they compare to the industry average for each of the indexes ?

  • Do their genetic trends align with their breeding goals?

It is SO important that your breeding goals are aligned with the direction your breeder is taking you.

If you answered yes to all of these four questions – you get a gold star! Get in touch and let’s talk about the extra for experts!

If every question was a no – get in touch and I can help you out for next year!

If you thought ram buying was easy and I have now totally confused you – get in touch and let’s walk through it together.

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