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Breeders Directory

Book Review:

Breeding Stud Sheep

By Nathan Griffith

At last! Here is a volume for which the sheep biz has waited a long time. Though there are several information sources that include details about breeding, nothing else focuses on getting a breeding stock operation up and running, as does this book.

Breeding Stud Sheep

It’s one thing to own, raise, show and sell purebred sheep, but it’s another to run a reliably lucrative stud operation. The latter is a true forward-looking business, because today’s trends in commercial breeding had to be anticipated and carried out by careful stud operators at least four years before!

Author Murray Long operates the Pendarra Stud in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), where close to 600 registered Australian White Suffolk ewes were bred last year to make some of the nation’s most in-demand foundation stock and sires. A third-generation farmer on a property that had farmed a traditional cereal grains/sheep for years, they finally established their White Suffolk breeding stock operation in 1996.

He was foundation chairman of the NSW White Suffolk Association for four years, and has also served as the president of the Australian National White Suffolk Assn. In writing the book, he drew not only on his own extensive experience, but also that of numerous other successful breeders around Australia.

The book starts with an overview of what a successful stud farm must be in order to attain the best success, setup of the property, choice of breeds, etc. He writes:

“It is pointless producing more of a product that is already oversupplied in your area simply because it looks nice and appeals to you—this will end up being a hobby, and an expensive one.”

In order to choose a breed, one must assess how well its studs are currently selling, and what the main clients pay extra for, Long says. Never for a moment taking the market for granted, he adds:

“You need to make sure that the type of stud enterprise you are about to undertake has a very good chance of success given that you are embarking on something new, as you will be in the market with other stud breeders in your area who may have been involved in the practice of stud breeding for many years.”

After a brief discussion of buildings, fences and precautions against problems from nearby sheep operations, the book turns to the important subject of getting your foundation ewes. He includes sections on dispersal sales, reduction sales, mated ewe sales, embryo transfer (ET), cast-for-age ewes, and young cull ewes.

Before getting specific about selecting sires (rams) Long explains all the methods of breeding from teaser methods to hand mating, or synchronized joining, to artificial insemination (AI), to ET, to juvenile in vitro embryo transfer (JIVET). His hints on nutrition alone around mating time will gain a lot of lambs and pay for the book.

Then follow interesting chapters on:

  • Selecting a sire,
  • Joining (mating) strategies,
  • Performance recording (including benchmarking),
  • Sheep selection (including selecting the right sheep, genetic defects and sheep structure and response to selection pressure),
  • Flock management (discussions on disease, nutrition, fat scoring, what to watch for during pregnancy, lambing and lambing problems,
  • Showing,
  • Promotion and marketing,
  • Sale time (including Elite sales, surplus ewe sales and follow-up),
  • Endless possibilities for expansion to gain wider markets and better profits.
  • Stud profiles (details on five highly respected and successful Australian stud operations—Border Leicester, Merino, White Suffolk and Dorset breeders).

The book ends up with three good appendices addressing the responsibilities of the stud operator, special points of ram care, and a brief explanation of the “money” values of each part of a ram.

This soft cover book has 136pp, photos, graphs and illustrations and index, and is an imprint of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency.

It is available for $39.95 from the sheep! Bookstore.

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