Studies on Merino wool production. Plainbodied and developed Merino sheep. I. The standard of production of a group of plainbodied stud ewes

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 2
  • Abstract:

    The wool production and fleece analysis of 50 extremely plainbodied stud ewes are given. The ewes were typical of the sheep of the stud (including the stud rams) and were obtained from a breeder who had consistently bred for extreme plainness, so that this characteristic is successfully being transmitted to the progeny. Thirty-five four-toothed stud ewes, recorded in 1940, gave an average greasy fleece of 13•28 lb.; a clean scoured fleece of 7•47 lb. as bone dry, or 8•7 lb. at 16 per cent. Regain; a yield of 58•4 per cent as dry or 67•7 per cent. on the the Bradford system; an average staple length of 4•0 inches and a 60's quality number with a coefficient of variability of 4•5 per cent., indicating a uniform group. The number of fibres per square inch of skin ranged from 31,700 to 45,000, with an average of 41,600. The average fleece density was 2•51 per cent. Fifteen four-toothed stud ewes, recorded in 1941, gave an average greasy fleece weight of 12•17 lb. with 6•99 lb. of clean scoured wool as bone dry, or 8•1 lb. of clean wool at 16 per cent. Regain. The yield was 58•1 per cent. as dry or 67•3 per cent. on the Bradford system. The average staple length was 3•8 inches and the quality number a 60's with a coefficient of variability of 4•3 per cent. showing a uniform group. The number of fibres growing per square inch of skin ranged from 30,200 to 71,600 with an average of 46,700. The average fleece density was 2•54 per cent. It is concluded that the extremely plainbodied stud here described possesses a good stud standard of production in regard to the total wool, the length, and the fleece density. The view held by many sheepmen that extremely plainbodied sheep must necessarily have inferior fleeces, cannot be substantiated. Not only do these sheep produce profitable fleeces, but by virtue of their smooth skins and strong constitutions, they possess the practical advantages of the plain bodied type. The reliability of judging merino wool production in practice is discussed. It is contended that the judgment of fleece density and quantity of wool is difficult because of the grease factor and an increased need for fleece testing has been experienced. In the stud analysed there is a highly significant correlation between greasy fleece weights and scoured fleece weights and an insignificant correlation between greasy fleece weights and yield. In consequence, the breeder can, by selecting the highest greasy fleece weights, automatically improve upon the clean wool production. This recommendation does not hold where there is a definite relationship between greasy fleece weights and yields.