Benchmarking power draws East Loddon Merinos to RamSelect

Tom and Marcus Hooke of East Loddon Merino Stud. Image courtesy of CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation

The ability to track genetic performance and better match rams to clients’ needs has prompted the East Loddon Merino Stud to list its catalogue on RamSelect for the first time.

Tom Hooke said more and more of his commercial clients were seeking detailed genetic information on their ram offering, particularly since the release of the DNA Flock Profile test for Merinos.

The Flock Profile test provides commercial breeders with a set of genetic measures for benchmarking their flock against industry averages – data which is all stored and displayed in to assist them in selecting rams to better meet their breeding objectives.

“RamSelect is really targeted at people looking for the right rams for their breeding objectives and are interested in the information that supports those decisions,” Tom Hooke said.

“Anyone can say they’ve got good, high-growth rate rams, but RamSelect has the benchmarking data behind it for people to really easily make an objective, informed decision.”

First released in 2015 by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), RamSelect is an easy-to-use web-based tool, which allows ram buyers to find and rank rams based on Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) that match their own breeding objective.

The Hooke family stud, located between Deniliquin and Hay, NSW, is currently preparing about 200 rams for sale this season and will be using RamSelect to ensure commercial producers from across the country have easy access to information about the genetic merit of rams in their catalogue.

“We want to service our clients better and we want more people to be aware of our genetics – RamSelect does both and it compares very favourably on price compared to marketing through other media,” Mr Hooke said.

The Sheep CRC recently reduced the price for studs listing their catalogues to: $3/head (ex GST) for the first 50 rams listed; $1.50/hd for next 50; and $1/hd for those over 100.

The price for a RamSelect user account – which allows producers to benchmark their ram teams and track their flock’s genetic progress against industry averages – remains at $25/year. All producers who purchase DNA Flock Profile tests will automatically receive a free RamSelect user account for 12 months.

An account also makes it easy to keep track of the rams purchased each year and has the added benefit of automated updates of ASBVs on all rams so that it is easy to review and manage the ram team when planning for the next ram sales.

“I believe the ram purchase tracking tool in RamSelect is really powerful for making more informed decisions and the more our clients can track their flock the better – it’s really valuable information both for our clients and for us as their ram breeder,” Mr Hooke said.

“If breeders at least have a starting point with information about the genetic status of their flock, it makes selections so much easier and we’re more able to help them make better ram selections by marrying up the data with our ram catalogues through RamSelect.”

Having received regular inquiry from its client base about Flock Profile and RamSelect, East Loddon Merinos upcoming Open Day on August 31 2018 will feature a presentation from the Sheep CRC’s training coordinator Lu Hogan on how to use both tools to maximise genetic gain.

Source: CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation

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