The current breeding strategy at Forest Range is capable of decreasing MFD (Mean Fibre Diameter) by one micron every three years, while effectively keeping GFW (Greasy Fleece Weight) constant.
Selection commenced in 1979. Objectively measured ewe hoggets (250,000 to date) have been the source for the open nucleus Elite Flock of some 1500 ewes. About 2000 ewe hoggets are screened as an annual resource for this Elite Flock – all are of Saxon super fine background. Imported stud ewes and rams and extensive use of New Zealand genetic material has been undertaken to evaluate progress.
The flock objectives are to produce maximum quantities and superior quality micro fine Merino wool by:
- Reducing fibre diameter (micron)
- Increasing clean fleece weigh
- Reducing CV to reduce variability within the fleece and within the flock
- Producing and maintaining structurally sound and healthy animals
Producing quality fibre with the following characteristics:
- High tensile strength
- Low VM
- Good colour
- Excellent structure character and definition of staple within the fleece
Key Operational Objectives:
- Sustainable farm management practices
- Sustainable financial security for the property and its clients
Over a 30 year period, a sophisticated computer system has been developed to record flock data. Automated equipment is utilised to streamline time consuming tasks and economise on labour inputs. Computer readable ear tags are used to provide further accuracy and integrity of data.
The breeding programme has been thoroughly researched and analysed by Massey University. To assess the breeding potential of elite sires and rams, an analysis programme known as BLUP (Best Lineal Unbiased Prediction) is used for indexing animals for selection. This is fully utilising the power of genetics.