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An inaugural Sheep CRC RamSelect workshop for Dorper sheep producers was co-hosted on Friday 22nd August at Quorn, South Australia, by the Central Division of the Dorper Sheep Society of Australia (DSSA) and Saltbush Livestock. Producers travelled from across South Australia, including from the South East and Eyre Peninsula, to join in.

Both commercial and stud breeders attended and continued their combined journey to quantify the genetic merit of Dorpers and ensure that the on-going genetic improvement can be demonstrated to others wishing to develop Dorper production systems to meet exciting current and emerging markets.

Investment in objective measurement for faster rates of genetic gain by leading breeders over the past 3-4 years is now delivering value for commercial producers.  Some breeders have taken on the challenge to measure the genetic performance of their sires and dams for commercial traits that drive profit in Dorper enterprises. These include carcase traits such as growth, muscle, fatness and lean meat yield; maternal traits such as number of lambs weaned and maternal weaning weight; and disease such as internal parasites.

At Quorn, the workshop participants learnt that it was essential to balance both visual and measured attributes when selecting rams. They learnt that ASBVs are figures that could be trusted to enable across and within flock comparisons of rams and gained confidence in how to do this.  Workshop participants also calculated the dollar difference between rams on a key trait such as post weaning weight (PWT) and the Self Replacing Carcase $ index (SRC$). To many participants surprise, with an average and modest production system there was over a $600 difference between the rams on display in the lifetime return on a terminal basis, and up to $2500 difference on a maternal basis, where a percentage of daughters are kept and return value to the flock over their lifetime.

(L-R) Janice Fiegert, Melashdan White Dorper Stud, Tumby Bay, Peter Battersby, Orroroo and Byron Johns, Port Pirie enjoyed the RamSelect workshop held at Saltbush Livestock Stud, Quorn.

Stud principal of Saltbush Livestock, Jamie McTaggart, left, discussing the attributes of stud rams at the recent RamSelect workshop with (L-R) Peter Battersby, Orroroo, Byron Johns, Port Pirie and Steven Johns, Port Pirie.