Breeding easy-care, easy-shear sheep
Dr David Scobie with two easy-care sheep
Research has shown that sheep that are less prone to dags and flystrike can be bred by farmers using genes already in the flock, with minimal impact on wool yield.
David Scobie of the Animal Productivity group has spent 10 years researching sheep that cost less to farm. Short tails, a bare rear-end and no underbelly wool can mean a significant saving on management costs and shearing time, with only the lower-value wool lost.
A woolly bulk-standard romney takes about 150 seconds to shear, and one with a bare belly and rear-end takes around 68 seconds. Shearing is also easier with shearers not going near the udder or hamstrings, which can easily be cut.
Dr Scobie says farmers can breed the bare sheep themselves from the enormous gene pool that exists in New Zealand. It is advised that farmers remove daggy ewes from the flock and choose clean rams, as traits such as tail length, clearness under the tail and belly are highly heritable characteristics.