Breeding Strategy & Objectives
One of the distinguishing traits that drew the Bennett's towards the Yalgoo program was the objective, measurable and proven approach they took to genetic improvement.

This approach has been wholly embraced at Ashby. An industry best objective measurement program is now in place. This includes fleece weighing, micron testing and indexing the entire commercial weaner drop at Ashby each year. This allows Ashby to confidently select the sheep that are making them money and breed from them.
Genetic Progress is driven by objective measurement and indexing because it is:

  • Proven
  • Effective
  • Rapid
Whilst people continue to dispute and not implement ASBV's and indexes, the Ashby flock has been revolutionised largely due to their influence. In 2004/5 the net profit for the merino flock was $8.60/DSE. In our 2011/12 benchmarking the net profit was $42/DSE, an increase of nearly 500% in 7 years and on a pretty flat, fine wool market.

Who say's genetic progress in merino's is slow? This result has been achieved solely through objective measurement and genetics.

Objective Measurement Summary

Selection: Population Genetics + Objective Measurement = Genetic Gain on Steroids!

To accelerate genetic progress Ashby will tap into the much larger genetic pool of the commercial ewe flock. The weaner drop of 2000 ewes are micron tested, fleece weighed and body weighed. They are then ranked on their genetic merit. Their data is collated and they are given an index ranking based on their genetic merit. A selection of the highest performing ewes will enter the ram breeding nucleus. Prior to their first lamb they are re tested and fleece weighed and ranked against the other stud ewes to see if they will remain in the stud flock.

To ensure genetic progress is rapid the ram breeding nucleus is re ranked annually. Competition to remain in the flock is based on performance. Each year 40 -50% of the flock is replaced with genetically superior maiden ewes.

The stud ewes are subjectively classed by Dr. Phil Holmes annually to remove any economic fault. With a specific eye on fleece rot, dermatitis, pigment, muffle and structure. Ewes are also removed if they have failed to raise a lamb until lamb marking for consecutive years.

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