Merino Policy and Technology

Our ultrafine flock has been bred up over 25 years using objective measurement from mid side samples taken off prior to shearing. These tests are used for wool classing and sheep selection. Rams are bred from some of the top ewes and are retained for use in this flock.

We are foundation members of the Ultrafine Company  (JV Ultrafine) and also source some of our rams from there. All rams used in our UF flock are under 15 micron on adult test. We sell a considerable quantity of our wool in forward contracts through the NZ Merino Company.
The Merino Stud was formed in 1988 and incorporates both fine, superfine, and ultrafine families. We are in the process of establishing a Poll Merino stud with the aim being high fertility and increased muscle. As well we are establishing a separate flock incorporating the Inverdale, Loinmax, and Myomax genes. These genes are being introduced via Xbred rams and then we will breed back to Merino.
We progeny test our prospective stud rams and were the first registered Merino Stud in New Zealand to have our records analysed with BLUP and generate EBV’s on our sale rams. Our Breeding Values are now generated at the University of New England by Sheep Genetics Australia. This is giving us across flock analysis with all SGA recorded Australian and NZ flocks.
Over the last 3 years we have been DNA testing our sale rams for footrot tolerance, and  our sires  for cold tolerance. All retained rams are parentage DNA tested and this allows us to be able to find the sires of any top producing commercial ewes.
All stud sheep are electronically tagged and can be scanned directly to our sheep software program.
At shearing we are able to scan the tag on the shearing board, at the scales, at the in shed micron test and have the data on screen at the classing table with the ability to input fleece comments,  scores and which bin the fleece has been classed into.

EID at Earnscleugh

Alistair and Duncan Campbell of Earnscleugh Station have invested in EID technology because when it comes to buying stud stock, farmers need to have complete and accurate information about all aspects of the performance of the animals they are buying. They consider EID technology to be invaluable because it reduces human error by accurately recording information.

“EBV’s (estimated breeding values) are only as accurate as the information being supplied and visual tag reading errors can be a major problem. In the conventional shearing process the tag or ticket is read and written at least four times with a percentage of errors at each stage causing multiple errors.”

“By simply scanning the EID tag, accessible on screen is all this wool data gathered at shearing, plus liveweights, lambing data, muscle scans, FEC counts and scrotal measurements, as well as EBV’s for these traits, along with production indices, footrot and cold tolerance DNA scores, pedigrees, the fate of offspring and visual scores.”

How EID Works in the Shearing Shed.

To ensure accurate information is recorded about stud sheep, shearing is a high tech operation at Earnscleugh Station.

  1. Each animal has an ear tag with an electronic identity (EID) disc in it. While each sheep is being shorn a shed hand scans its electronic ear tag with a ‘wand’. This generates a unique barcode number which is automatically printed out on a sticky label.
  2. Each sheep’s fleece is thrown onto the wool table where it is weighed. The barcode label is scanned by a wireless (bluetooth) scanner which automatically pairs the weight with the EID number of the sheep. The fleece is then skirted.
  3. A mid side sample is taken and the barcode EID number is scanned into the OFDA 2000 portable computerised fibre measurement instrument. Micron, length, SD, CV, and other measurements are added to the EID barcode number.
  4. The barcode number is entered into the computer software program Macrostud where the animal’s individual visual fleece scores are entered. At the end of shearing the fleece weights and measurements are downloaded to the software.
  5. The fleece with barcode goes to the wool classer where he can use the micron, staple length, and histogram (irregular micron down the fibre is an indication of tenderness) as an aid in his classing decision.
Merino flock muster