Corriedales pass the lamb taste test

Corriedales getting on front foot in wool and lamb

Business Profiles
PROVING A POINT: Peter Blackwood, Blackwood Corriedales, Evandale, Tasmania, with Victoria and Richard Archer, Quambly Plains, Hagley, Tas, with lambs from the Corriedale eating quality trial.

PROVING A POINT: Peter Blackwood, Blackwood Corriedales, Evandale, Tasmania, with Victoria and Richard Archer, Quambly Plains, Hagley, Tas, with lambs from the Corriedale eating quality trial.

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Corriedale breeders are getting on the front foot to prove the eating qualities of their dual-purpose breed.

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Having long believed eating quality was one of the strengths of their dual-purpose sheep, Corriedale breeders decided to get the scientific evidence.

With funding and help from Meat and Livestock Australia and Adelaide University's Davies Research Centre and the support of Sheep Genetics, they launched a $300,000, three-year Corriedale eating quality genomics trial.

While the final results aren't yet available, the project leader, Professor Wayne Pitchford, Adelaide University, recently reported the early findings had been favourable.

In terms of eating quality, the Corriedale carcases had recorded intramuscular fat (IMF) levels of up to 10 per cent while also ticking the boxes for muscle and surface fat levels.

Vice president of the Australian Corriedale Association, Peter Blackwood, said the aim of the trial was to both show where the breed fitted into the lamb industry in terms of eating quality, especially IMF and shear force, while also allowing development of genetic tools to breed better animals.

"The trial is complete using 43 sires over three years. Data has been collected on more than 700 lambs, not only on measurements for eating quality but also growth, wool production and quality, structure and breed characteristics," Mr Blackwood, Blackwood Corriedales, Evandale, Tasmania, said.

He said the research had been initiated by members of the Performance Corriedale Group which he helped form in 2006.

Dual-purpose Corriedales were developed simultaneously in both Australia and New Zealand more than 150 years ago using a Merino-Lincoln cross.

They are hardy, easy-care, polled sheep with high fertility. Their popularity has spread beyond Australasia to around 20 countries including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and the United States.

They produce bulky, high-yielding wool ranging from 25 to 30 microns.

Corriedale flocks are now concentrated in southern Australia in higher rainfall areas.

Mr Blackwood said Corriedale breeders were full of optimism with improved seasonal conditions, strong lamb prices and demand of mid-micron wool, even allowing for the recent drop in prices.

"Corriedale wool generally sells at a premium to market rates because of its processing qualities," he said.

"Corriedales are a self-replacing, moderate-framed ewe with mid-micron wool that will fit into flocks that require lambs and wool.

Corriedales are a self-replacing, moderate-framed ewe with mid-micron wool that will fit into flocks that require lambs and wool. - Peter Blackwood

"With sheep replacement prices at a premium at the moment, the industry requires more self-replacing ewes in the flock rebuild.

"With the shortage of 22-26 micron wool there is a place for this type of ewe that also has an improving lambing percentage in recorded flocks."

Stuart Oliver, Gumlea, Wattle Flat on SA's Fleurieu Peninsula, is pleased he introduced Corriedales into his first-cross ewe flock about eight years ago.

He switched from Merinos to first-cross ewes (Merino-Border Leicester cross) after the wool price crash in the early 1990s.

However the quality of the wool slipped and after doing some research he identified Corriedales as the best fix to the problem.

He now runs about 1000 Corriedale-cross ewes (50pc Corriedale, 25pc Merino, 25 per Border Leicester) which he joins to Poll Dorsets and White Suffolks from SA's Newbold stud.

The ewes are cutting three kilograms more wool, producing 40pc more lambs while there has been no difference in growth rates.

He is growing out a 50kg lamb (liveweight) in 109 days off pasture.

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