Breeding Objectives

Cranmore Merino breeding objectives:

Objective 1:

To breed easy care sheep: we are moving toward sheep with low fecal egg count (FEC), plain bodied sheep with a sound structure and bare breeches.

Objective 2:

Reduction in fibre diameter, increase clean fleece weight and reduction in coefficient of variation of fibre diameter.

Objective 3:

To breed pre-potent rams: the progeny of Cranmore Merino rams will look the same as their fathers. This is best achieved through closed breeding - Cranmore Merino Stud has been a closed stud since 1945.

Objective 4: Uniformity of wool type: we select for sheep with white, bright, highly defined crimp and well-aligned fibres.
Objective 5: Fleece rot resistance: A well-aligned wool fibre means greater drainage of moisture out of the wool, lowering the risk of fleece rot.

Breeding Programs

To a large extent, the breeding policy at Cranmore Merino Stud has been influenced by plant breeders. Just as plant breeders know better than to judge the value of a plant by its appearance alone, we at Cranmore know better than to judge a ram on his appearance alone. As such single matings are carried out to evaluate the progeny of rams. The progeny are also tested for body weight, micron and greasy fleece weight.

For many years the practice of progeny testing has been followed at Cranmore Merino Stud so that the rams are found which possess the highest potential capacity to produce the maximum number of desirable traits. 

Progeny Testing

Each year ten to twelve rams are involved in progeny testing. The rams involved in the progeny testing program are each mated to 50 individually identified ewes. (see news for definition of progeny testing). The progeny of each ram is also individually marked so that the ram can be assessed on the basis of the performance of his progeny.

The best sire according to the previous year’s progeny tests determines which rams will be used in current year progeny tests. Semen is also taken from these rams and is available from Cranmore Merinos.

Mob matings

The ‘workers’ (rams used for mating the main commercially run flock) are selected on both visual traits and on objective measurements. Any stand-out rams from these selections are progeny tested. 

Ewes not mated to progeny test rams are mated in age groups. The ewes are mated for about five years, with a higher proportion of young ewes mated. Only the best of the older ewes are retained for mating.