Rams from Karbullah Poll Merino will be the driving force behind the new initiative aimed at increasing lamb survivability in the harsh environments of the Falkland Islands.
Karbullah is the key stud of four Australian merino studs selected to provide semen for the 4000 Falkland Islands ewes selected for the first stage of the program.
Karbullah has supplied over 5000 doses of semen from three of their top sires with leading figures for yearling fat and muscle, which will provide the bulk of the semen to be used in the program by the Falklands Landholding Corporation.
Falklands Landholding Corporation general manager Neil Judd did a tour of Australian studs before settling on Karbullah and three other merino studs, for their positive carcass data and good Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV’s).
Mr Judd said because of the long harsh winters in the Falklands Islands both reproductive and wool cut productivity is low.
“Farmers struggle to achieve lambing percentages above 60% mainly due to extremely savage post lambing losses in the first few days after birth.
“We also only average 3.75kg for our greasy wool cuts and 25 microns over the entire Falklands flock.
“We are looking to improve on both the wool cuts and micron and lamb survivability.”
Mr Judd said farmers are also interested in selling 10-16 month old lambs and hoggets into their European Union (EU) approved abattoir, but are struggling to get the weight and fat cover, which is why they are chasing rams with positive carcass data.
Karbullah Poll Merino proprietor Mark Murphy said positive fat and muscle helps improve metabolic efficiency, which enable sheep to better handle environmental challenges.
“One of the huge advantages of this is far better lamb survival.
“We have now got sires that have lamb survival rates equal to or better than those in labour intensive shedded facilities in the EU.
“We have selected specifically for high fat and muscle characteristics for the last decade and sheep draw on these traits in hard times, which are critical towards their ability to hold condition, rear lambs and produce good fleece weights.”
Australian rams selected for this program will eventually be used across the organisations entire ewe flock of 70 000 sheep.