Merinos … the most profitable breed
Independent research and field trials show that Merinos are the ultimate dual-purpose sheep and are a highly profitable addition to any farming enterprise.
The Breed More Merino Ewes campaign highlights Merinos are achieving profitable results for producers compared to other breeds and enterprises across Australia in a range of production systems and rainfall zones.
Merinos deliver the highest returns, outperforming other livestock enterprises
For Tasmanian producer David Taylor – who benchmarks his operation through Holmes Sackett – Merinos are generating an income of about $70/DSE for wool, compared with $60/DSE for prime lamb and $50/DSE for beef.
“Over the past three years, the net profit per DSE from an average wool flock has outperformed an average prime lamb flock by about $2.30/DSE – an 18% higher return. The net profit/DSE over an average beef herd is even greater at about $2.90/DSE – or a 22% higher return,” he said.
In addition, Merinos topped a six year sheep profitability trial at Elmore, Victoria. The 2015 trial report, Ewes for the Future – Lambs, Wool and Profit, stated: “With lower risk, particularly in tight seasons when significantly higher feed needs are taken into account, the Merino had the highest $/DSE return at $69 and $70 compared to the other groups at $57‐$61.”
Merinos are competitive with returns from grain growing enterprises
Western Australian Wheat Belt Region farm consultant Ed Riggall says benchmarking figures for Merinos in WA’s wheat belt region ranged from $35 to $40‐plus DSE per hectare in 2015‐16.
“In the Lake Grace region, with a DSE of 4‐6/ha, producers were benchmarked as making $200 to $250/ha which, next to 2 tonnes/ha of wheat or barley, is a very comparable enterprise,” he said.
Meanwhile in South Australia, Yorke Peninsula sheep producer Martin Ramsay’s current gross margin is $94 per hectare per 100 millimetres of growing season rainfall.
“It wasn’t economically viable for me to run cropping in comparison to livestock due to machinery costs, and not having any machinery agencies or mechanics nearby to service or fix machines when needed. Now three‐quarters of my income comes from livestock.”
Merino Success Stories
Many Merino producers are achieving outstanding financial returns – in terms of dollars per dry sheep equivalent or per hectare – through best practice flock management and business planning.
Here’s a snapshot of what producers from across Australia are saying about Merinos …
Bob and Stephen Tohl, South Australia
DESIGNATED weaning paddocks, culling of dry ewes, feed lotting, supplementary feeding and genetic selection are some of the tools utilised by Mid North SA farmers Bob and Stephen Tohl to maximise productivity of their Merino enterprise. Read More
Mike Pratt, Queensland
WHEN Mike Pratt looks at his Merinos, all he can see is growth. Growth of flock numbers, growth in genetic advances, physical growth of meat and wool, growth in his local community and growth of the entire Merino industry across Queensland and Australia. Read More
Rod Taylor, Western Australia
LOOKING back over his 37 years of farming, Rod Taylor can recall a time when wool prices were just $2.40/kg. Such memories make it all the sweeter now his clip averages $15/kg plus, and when you’re running 51,000 Merinos, it’s a rather comfortable position to be in. Read More
Rob O'Connor, Tasmania
WHEN the figures started stacking up, Tasmanian farmer Rob O’Connor figured it was time to breed more Merino ewes. Six years ago, after extensive analysis of his mixed sheep enterprise, Rob decided to sideline his crossbreeding program and shift his focus back to refining his Merino genetics and boosting his flock numbers. Read More
Dean Wheaton, Victoria
DEAN Wheaton didn’t think his Merinos could perform any better than the 2017 season. Then along came 2018. Wool prices increased by 30 per cent, sheep values continued to climb and his lambing rates were also heading higher, making for a perfect storm of Merino magic. Read More
Ben and Oona Banks, Queensland
WESTERN Queensland grazier Ben Banks has long known the value of a Merino ewe. So much so, that even throughout the last 20 years of unpredictable and extreme weather patterns of northern Australia, Ben and his family have done everything within their power to hold onto their core breeding ewes. Read More
Ian and Camilla Shippen, New South Wales
WHEN Moulamein farmer Ian Shippen drifts off to sleep each night, he rests easy, knowing his sheep will have grown him seven more bales of wool by the morning. Read More
Craig Hickman, South Australia
MERINOS are a vital part of the enterprise mix at Craig and Abigail Hickman’s Curramulka property Seaview, on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, producing $130 per winter grazed hectare per 100mm of growing season rainfall in 2016. Read More
Daniel Schuppan, South Australia
Merinos offer farmers a profitable option with the ability to produce a gross margin of up to $60 per dry sheep equivalent for self-replacing Merino flocks in the cereal zone according to 2016-17 Sheep’s Back Benchmarking Program figures, says Landmark Animal Production Specialist Daniel Schuppan. Read More
Simon Fowler, Western Australia
The Fowler family are a force to be reckoned with in an era where big corporate businesses are slowly nudging out family-owned and operated farming systems. Read More
David Taylor, Tasmania
“Over the past three years, the net profit per DSE from an average wool flock has outperformed an average prime lamb flock by about $2.30/DSE – an 18% higher return. The net profit/DSE over an average beef herd is even greater at about $2.90/DSE – or a 22% higher return.” Read More
Martin Ramsay, South Australia
Merino profitability on my farm is driven by three key factors – stocking rate, bodyweight and fleeceweight. While these key factors vary year‐on‐year, I’ve seen a steady improvement in all of them since I’ve been benchmarking. This takes the guess work out of measuring profitability and you can get a clearer picture of where you’re going season to season.” Read More
Ed Riggall, Western Australia
“From an economic perspective, sheep meat and wool indicators are fantastic. If you’re not enthusiastic about the prospects of sheep meat and wool now, you’ll never be. On a sheep confidence index I would rate it as a 10 out of 10.” Read More
Brent Flood, Victoria
“Merinos have the wool cut, the wool quality and they are the backbone of the first‐cross ewe industry. For the amount you can run per acre they are a very profitable article. They have a genuine profitability. One semi‐load of wool is the equivalent of 40 loads of barley in the current market.”
James Derrick, New South Wales
“I’ve done the calculations and Merinos come out on top. I’m switching back for ease of management, it’s much simpler and more efficient to run a single breed enterprise. I feel the Merino lambs will more than fill the requirements previously filled by the crossbred lambs.” Read More
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