Findings from 18 months of evaluation are now available and provide producers with the opportunity to compare the genetic performance of individual rams from a range of studs.
The trial was conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Federation of Performance Sheep Breeders WA under the requirements of the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA).
Sheep genetics development officer Meghan England said the trial, held at the department’s research facilities in Mt Barker and Katanning, assessed the progeny of 12 WA sires and one from NSW which acted as a ‘link’ sire to other AMSEA trials running across Australia.
Ms England said trials compared the breeding performance of the different sires by evaluating their progeny. The sires were mated through artificial insemination to an equal allocation of ewes and had an average of 32 progeny each.
“The trials assessed each sire’s breeding performance for a large number of wool and meat traits which are important to breeders, and enable participants to compare Australian Sheep Breeding Values,” Ms England said.
“This included weaning, yearling and hogget growth rates and carcase traits such as eye muscle depth and fat depth.
“Fleece traits such as fleece weight, fibre diameter, staple length and staple strength, among others, were also measured.
“Visual traits included wool colour and character, fleece rot, dust penetration, staple weathering, staple structure, fibre and non-fibre pigmentation, face cover, body wrinkle, breech cover, confirmation of feet/legs/back/shoulder/jaw and dag.”
Ms England said the results were reported as Flock Breeding Values (FBVs), which allow the comparison of the sires within the trial against each other, as well as Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) through the MerinoSelect analysis which provides linkage to other flocks using Sheep Genetics.
The full report of the Yardstick ‘2015 Drop Hogget Assessment’ can be found on the AMSEA website merinosuperiorsires.com.au 
For more information about the Merino Sire Evaluation project contact Meghan England (nee Cornelius) at email@example.com 
The trial was supported by the department’s Royalties for Regions-funded Sheep Industry Business Innovation project, with assistance from Australian Wool Innovation.
Lisa Bertram/Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937