Hazeldean's philosophy is to demonstrate accurately the genetic superiority of its stock relative to an accurate industry standard. The establishment of Sheep Genetics Australia, Merino Benchmark and Central Test Sire Evaluation is very much in keeping with Hazeldean's ethos and the stud actively participates in these programs.
There is no substitute for the pudding if you want proof! The best looking and best performing ram is completely useless if he doesn't produce progeny either equal to, or better than himself. The only way to tell whether a ram is breeding well is to undertake a progeny test and assess all his offspring for the traits that matter most to your breeding goals. That is the basis of all accurate genetic evaluation programs.
Sheep Genetics Australia
Hazeldean is committed to across flock comparison and is a founding member of Sheep Genetics Australia, the equivalent of Group Breedplan in the beef industry. SGA allows an individual rams' Australian Sheep Breeding Value (ASBV's) to be directly compared to rams in other member flocks entered in SGA throughout Australia.
Hazeldean Rams continue to rank in the top sires in Australia.
Merinos to Match
Hazeldean is one of the participating studs in the 'Merinos to Match' project which has been developed by the Department of Primary Industries with the Victorian Stud Merino Sheep Breeders Association. The aim is to evaluate a number of studs in sites around Victoria for traits that are important to producers. The guidelines for doing this have been developed to ensure that this trial is credible and fairly evaluates the studs represented.
Central Test Sire Evaluation
As a means of establishing the standard of Hazeldean's sires relative to the rest of the industry, we have entered many of our stud sires in Central Test Sire Evaluation in every state.
For details of rams entered by Hazeldean go to Merino Superior Sires.
Sire evaluation schemes compare the genetic merit of a number of Merino rams from various studs by comparing each sire's offspring side by side after they have been reared under identical pasture and environmental conditions. Sire evaluation schemes identify individual rams with the genetic capacity to sire superior Merino sheep.
All sire evaluation schemes throughout Australia and New Zealand are linked together by rams that are used in more than one scheme. Linking allows comparisons to be made between sires that have been progeny-tested in different areas, and in different years.
The wool industry must identify and make more extensive use of its elite rams so genetic gains can be maximized. Hazeldean has been involved in Sire Evaluations since their inception more than 15 years ago.
Hazeldean sires have always performed at or near the top of every sire evaluation.
Central Test Sire Evaluations involve Stud breeders entering rams that are mated to an equal allocation of ewes.
Their progeny are assessed for their performance, both measured and visual. The major measured traits (GFW, CFW, FD, BWT, CV, Yield, Staple Length, and FEC) are expressed as an Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV's).
This is the expected performance of a sire relative to another sire in the evaluation when mated to the same standard of ewes.
Hazeldean Merinos Unparalleled Performance
Hazeldean rams have been independently tested for many more years and more often than any other stud in Australia. Hazeldean regularly comes at or near the top of every sire evaluation in which it has a ram entered.
Increasingly, wether trial data is seen as one of the main sources of information when selecting a bloodline to use in wool production enterprises. It is certainly a positive development when compared to many other so called indicators of profitability however wether trial data needs to be used carefully as part of a thorough and overall analysis and not simply taken on its own.
Although we support all objective assessment including wether trials, many years ago we made a decision not to enter trials with wethers from our own commercial flock. We did this because we believed it was important that trial data was generated from our clients flocks, not our own, and we continue to encourage clients to enter. We saw, and still see, some danger in results being biased if information is generated largely from a ‘stud’ commercial flock and not from clients of that stud.
There can be significant differences between flocks of the same bloodline and this is evident in the results between our own clients where, although they invariably all perform above average, show a marked difference in returns from highest to lowest . ‘Stud’ produced wethers can be significantly higher again and therefore the more teams a particular stud enters the higher its ranking becomes. Because wether trial data has become such a significant marketing tool for studs, some less scrupulous stud breeders have created special flocks primarily for the purpose of producing superior trial wethers, further distorting the aim and intent of wether trials.
Due to these factors and a few others, we see some danger in the current push to use wether trial data without further analysis of the bloodline in your own breeding enterprise. Wether trial data is one source of objective information on which to base decisions. Others include Central Test Sire Evaluation and ASBV’s – Australian Sheep Breeding Values.
However all this information is only preliminary to the most important evaluation of all –and that is how that bloodline performs in your environment, under your management and with your ewe flock. This is the most important, and most definitive trial of all and the only way you can do this is to set up a bloodline progeny trial on your own property.
Setting up a bloodline comparison trial is very simple and straightforward and does not involve a large amount of extra work. The critical thing is to identify the lambs produced by the new bloodline as a group and then compare their total production on a per head basis with those sheep produced by your usual bloodline source. If you would like further information on the steps involved to measure genetic difference as accurately as possible we would be happy to assist you.
Bloodline Comparison Trials
From a commercial mans point of view, one ram breeding better or worse than another is no big deal. The important thing is whether the group of rams you have purchased from your chosen stud is pushing the genetics of your flock in the direction you want it to go.
Finding out before you have wasted a lot of time, and spent a lot of money, on a new ram source that ends up not delivering what you thought it would is a problem to be avoided.
An on farm bloodline comparison trial is the quickest, cheapest and most accurate way of discovering whether a new ram source is capable of producing more profit from your sheep enterprise....find out more