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Lose the wrinkles; don't tell me it can't be done!



by Dr Paul Nilon
September 2019

In recent editions, your correspondent has linked to articles and lectures on using genetics to reduce fly susceptibility. Herewith, an example of what can be achieved in a short time frame —only 10 years. This mob used to have more skin than the floor of a Jewish barbershop (unfortunately I don't have a before photo) and are the result of within flock selection for wrinkle and dag and using ASBVs for wool and carcase traits.



Plain sheep after a 10-year period of selection using ASBVs for wool and carcase traits. Source: Paul Nilon.
Plain sheep after a 10-year period of selection using ASBVs for wool and carcase traits. Source: Paul Nilon.

The owners are trialling long tails for market advantage. The tails are shorn at the May crutching to reduce the dag during winter. Sheep are treated with cyromazine in December/January. The owners suggest that the ideal tail length would be just above the hocks, and they have identified some sires with such a length. This may not work on your farm, but it is food for thought.



The moral of the story is that we need innovative solutions to production problems. Don’t knock people for trying different ideas.

I remember Jim Maple-Brown (Springfield, Goulburn) who developed easy-care sheep in the 1970s. His concern was labour cost rather than fly control per se. For his trouble, he was widely pilloried by industry elites. Maybe he had an alternative to mulesing 50 years ago.

For those who would like to see what sort of breech wrinkle score to aim for, you are (again) referred to the video of Geoff Lyndon's excellent review from the ParaBoss Conference.