Aims and Expectations of MNCC
Coopworth Newsletter, October 2010
Despite the infectious mood of despondency and malady that has swept over the NZ sheep industry in recent times, there appears to be a remedy on offer that will provide an opportunity for betterment for those prepared to adapt and modify. A new industry strategy is being proposed by Beef & Lamb. Also a new business model ‘Plate-to-Pasture’ is being formulated by a joint venture between Silver Fern Farms, PGG Wrightson and Landcorp. The outcome from these exercises hopefully will transpire into something tangible that we can all proudly be part of for a more rosy and profitable future as sheep farmers or, in the new speak, as ‘suppliers’ of raw ingredients for the food industry. There is even a hint of something better emerging with greater interest in wool!
The key lesson of late is that farmers must always focus upon profitability by creating for themselves opportunities to improve the bottom line. Know and understand the cost of production and the key drivers that will influence the profit margin.
Arguably the most important key driver is you making an investment in genetics. Perhaps right now, more than ever before, the best investment you can make is the selection of efficient and functional genetics. It is genetics, the inside stuff, that will have a huge long-term impact on your sheep flock and the profitability this brings, second only to your skills as a farm manager!
Coopworth genetics will enable you to create new opportunities that will bring on improved profitability. These Coopworth genetics provide you real value that will go on and help minimise and reduce production costs and improve the value of what you produce.
As a seed stock ram breeder, MNCC has successfully made genetic advancement for many years now through a tradition of balanced economically important trait selection and intensive culling for structure, productivity and performance. With Coopworth genetics inside, you will invariably perform more positively than any other single factor to provide you with an improved level of profitability.
Using Coopworth genetics provides you with choice unlike any other. You will find that employing Coopworth genetics in a straightbred program offer simplicity whilst at the same time satisfying market specifications. They’re also complimentary in a cross breeding program with a terminal ram, providing the advantage of hybrid vigour when all lambs are to be marketed as finished prime.
MNCC rams have the genetics that will go on to improve your profitability. The SIL indexes show you that our breeding program is about selecting for productivity traits that have real economic value in a balanced manner. Then there is the importance of having a sheep flock that can work in your environment and overcome all the nasties often referred to as autumn ill-thrift. MNCC is constantly reminded of this requirement and so continually emphasises the need for maintaining a high level of genetic tolerance for facial eczema. The upside to this is a cross-over in tolerance to other myco toxins, including ryegrass staggers, which itself can be a very debilitating condition.
By investing in MNCC genetics you’re buying more than just a ram – you’re buying into our breeding program with all the added value that can be provided, which is independently verified by the SIL indexes.
Facial Eczema Tolerance
MNCC has been testing for FE tolerance for 25 years and is continuing by dosing with a high level of the FE causing toxin (0.6 mg sporidesmin/kgLW) and measuring the effects. This level has been in force for the last 5 years. We have considered pushing on for a higher level of tolerance, however to do so would lessen the opportunity to focus upon other economically production traits and 0.6 mg/kg gives a very good level of protection for an average year.
The Maternal Traits
The maternal traits are the probably the most important economic traits you require. Without a lamb that can go to market you have nothing. MNCC is consistently selecting for this requirement first and foremost. Our target, albeit a ‘stretch’ target for now, is for every ewe to successfully rear two good lambs. In stating that we now know our current level of fertility is about where we need to be. In fact, it could dampen down a little since the number of triplets that occur when scanning at above 180% percent can become a significant inconvenience. Depending upon the type of country you are on, a lambing percentage between 140 – 160% is probably the sweet spot for now. If you have achieved this then you’re better off adding more value to those lambs by improving their carcass value. It is simply a case of economic efficiency.
Improved Lamb Carcass Value
When it was discovered that within the MNCC flock the Myostatin gene was present, DNA testing was used to generate improved primal muscling. This is now being capitalised upon, as improved lamb carcass value is critical in order to get a better return from your lambs and increased profitability. Over the next few months with a new crop of lambs on the ground, a lot more information to work on will become available to drive this part of our breeding program forward. It will be quite exciting to learn what gains have been made over the last year or so.
Progeny Lamb Saleable Meat Yield
As with improved lamb carcass value, the saleable meat yield is an important factor to realise for a better return. MNCC is soon to undertake a progeny yield test to establish with other Coopworth breeders some baseline performance levels. This will enable us to better target what needs to be achieved and help you get better performance.
In the long term, MNCC is committed to providing you with affordable genetics that deliver performance and improved efficiency through balanced economically important trait selection.
In breeding there are always trade-offs, sometimes it is simply impossible to follow all the principles you might like to adhere to. The importance of some traits will become less urgent when their target goals are getting close or have been met.
To summarise, the following traits are the ones that are uppermost in mind when selecting rams for future mating:
All rams offered for sale have a full guarantee for fertility and loss for the first breeding season.
If a ram is injured, unable to naturally service ewes or dies, please notify me as soon as possible. If possible the ram will be replaced for the current mating season, or, if it is too late or a replacement is not available, for the next one. Alternatively, you can also claim your money back.
If you have any questions or would like additional information, feel free to contact me at any time through e-mail: or phone: (07) 895 7144