100 years on

In 2008, Cranmore Merino stud, at Walebing, east of Moora, proudly celebrated one hundred years of Merino breeding.

The Cranmore Park property has consistently bred white-woolled, plain bodied sheep for five generations. Right from our origins in 1906 with Peppin bloodline from Boonoke, our focus has been on sheep with quality wool, well packed but free from body wrinkles.

Over time, we have kept to those original objectives, carefully defining our goals and making suitable modifications to produce an environmentally friendly Merino. Today, 100 years on, Cranmore’s tradition of easy-care sheep bred for Australian conditions continues.

Favourable comparisons

Cranmore’s sheep have compared favourably with other studs in sire evaluation schemes in terms of measured data such as greasy fleece weight, fibre diameter and body weight and objective measurements.

Trials carried out by the Department of Agriculture in December 2005 found the average body weight of one hundred black and white tag (2000 and 2001 drop respectively) Cranmore ewes to be above the trial average, weighing in at an average of 63.1 kilograms.

The easy care Cranmore ram

Recent fine tuning has produced a line of bare breeched rams and progeny. The 2007-drop ram lambs have shown a consistent trend to the bare breech characteristic without any reduction in fleece weight. Some of the bare breeched ram lambs recorded an 8% increase in fleece weight compared to other ram lambs shorn in late April. This feature is seen consistently throughout the flock, with a large number of rams showing the wrinkle-free, bare breech trait.

A mules-free flock?

Recent research indicates that a combination of the bare breech area and wrinkle-free skin is crucial to aiding fly strike resistance. To make them even easier to care for, Cranmore sheep have also been selected for low faecal worm egg counts, so only minimal drenching is necessary.

All of this means that there is great potential for establishing a mules-free flock because sheep with these qualities will remain dry throughout the year, reducing the likelihood of fly strike.

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Ram Shearing 2006

Ram shearing takes place each autumn at Cranmore Park, with wool from the 2006 ram shearing living up to the Cranmore tradition of being fine, white and well aligned. The sheep have five months of wool growth, following lamb shearing in late spring. 

The wool produced by the rams was of a consistently high standard, with an average fibre diameter of 17.7 microns. The average fleece weight was excellent, weighing in at 3.02 kilogams per head averaged over 510 rams. The pol merino rams also shore very well, with average fleece weight over the 36 pol rams being 3.01 kilograms. 

The Cranmore Merino rams from the progeny test matings showed their supremacy again this year, averaging higher fleece weight and producing bright, white wool. The average fleece weight of the progeny test rams was 3.11 kilograms per head over 235 rams. 

Special notice was taken this year of rams with bare breech and backside areas. These rams are the ultimate in easy care - with a bare breech and backside reducing the risk of fly strike and other disease issues. The beauty of a bare breech Cranmore Merino ram is that wool production is not compromised in selection of bare breech - the wool production of the Cranmore Merino bare breech rams is 3.01 kilograms per head averaged over the 38 rams with this trait. Ultimately sheep of this type will not require mulesing.

During ram shearing, the shearers commented on the lack of wrinkles in the skin of the Cranmore Merino, stating that the rams were easy to shear with loose skins. This is testament to one of the primary breeding objectives of Cranmore - to breed easy care, plain bodied sheep.

Do you like the sound of the easy care, white wooled Cranmore Merino? Then contact us here at Cranmore Merinos for more information or attend our on-property field day on September 5 at Cranmore Park.

Description

Fibre diameter (micron)

CV%

Hauteur

AAAM

17.7

19.8

44

AAAPCS

17.4

20.7

42


Results

kg/head (5 months of wool)

Total number

Overall average

3.02

510

Poll average

3.01

36

Bare breech average

3.01

48

Progeny test average

3.11

235

Ram 1

3.50

22

Ram 2

3.21

14

Ram 3

3.39

18

Ram 4

3.06

27

Ram 5

2.96

19

Ram 6

2.97

20

Ram 7

3.08

16

Ram 8

2.99

25

Ram 9

3.36

7

Ram 10

2.95

21

Ram 11

3.15

15

Ram 12

2.91

19

Ram 13

3.26

12

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Pathways to profit

The recent AWI program The Sheep’s Back brought together woolgrowers from the Dandaragan - Moora region in WA, who showed there can be many paths to becoming a progressive, profitable woolgrower. Three growers are taking differing approaches to achieving the same ultimate goal.

Narrowing profit margins have been the catalyst for Kristin Lefroy to move his business towards creating synergies between the different farm enterprises - including growing pulse crops such as faba beans and field peas, which provide nitrogen to the soil and have high summer feed value for his flock.

The value of pulse crop stubble for lambs is part of a push at ‘Cranmore’ for increased growth rates in lambs, better lambing percentage and improved lamb production - a strategy taken from AWI’s Lifetime Wool project. Kristin is also aiming to increase his stocking rate from 7.9 DSE/ha to 9.24 DSE/ha, through increased stock numbers combined with increased crop area. This increased stocking rate will be fed under rotational grazing systems in winter and over perennial fodder crops and stubbles in summer. Kristin has shifted his attention from focusing on minor cost drivers to the main driver of stock enterprises - stocking rate.

Ewes are fed lupins for two to three weeks pre-joining and for the first two to three weeks of joining to maintain condition score at
3.0 - 3.5. This high early-summer condition score means some condition can be lost over summer without affecting the ewe’s reproductive capacity. From The Sheep’s Back program, Kristin has learned it is too expensive to increase ewe condition score through supplementary feeding when there is no available green feed. Ewes need to be in good condition at the start of the dry summer autumn period.

Over the past 10 years Kristin and his father Bruce have concentrated on increasing fleece weight per head through selection for longer staple length without compromising fibre diameter (18 micron) or variation (CV) of fibre diameter (less than 20 per cent).

Faecal egg count has also been reduced through selection for rams with lower FEC and plainer bodies. Kristin believes these priorities have led to a significant improvement in the enterprise’s foundations.

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Ewes in optimal condition prior to joining

One hundred Cranmore black and white tag ewes were condition scored on November 21 2005 with excellent results. The average condition score over one hundred randomly ewes was 3.7, whilst medium body weight was 63.1 kg. The condition score of average was optimal for breeding according to Department of Agriculture Research Officer, Samantha Giles. “Joining at a condition score of 3.5 or more is optimal for ewe fertility and for fetal growth of the lamb,” Ms Giles said. “In addition, a good condition score at this time of year allows the ewes to decrease in condition slightly after joining and then increasing condition using green feed available, in other words saving money on the costs of excessive supplementary feed.” 

Cranmore condition scored their ewes as part of a project looking at the use of a feed budgeting tool over the summer and autumn period. The information gained from the project will be used to determine the quality of feed over this traditional low-quality feed period and allow Cranmore to more accurately measure the nutrition of its ewes pre-joining and during early pregnancy. Long standing research has shown that appropriate nutrition during pregnancy allows for best fetal development including secondary wool follicles and allowing for full genetic potential to be reached later in life.

The Lifetime Wool Project has found that good ewe nutrition during late pregnancy and lactation can have a positive effect on the production parameters of subsequent progeny; including an increase in greasy fleece weight and a reduction in fibre diameter.

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On-property Ram Sale
1pm, Wednesday 20 September 2017

Rams will be offered at our on-property Ram Sale. Rams penned for inspection by 9.30am. Selling commences at 1.00pm. Luncheon and light refreshments provided.

Download the 2017 Cranmore Auction Rams List and test results here >>>

Cranmore Merino stud, Walebing, now celebrating over one hundred years of Merino breeding.