Quality genetics backed by quality data

Quality genetics backed by quality data
Armidale Merino Stud’s Simon and Sarah Paterson, sons Hugo and Bede and Eris and Alan Paterson.

Armidale Merino Stud’s ram sale on January 24 provides a special opportunity for astute buyers to tap into the high quality genetics on offer.This quality has been repeatedly confirmed by Armidale being winner of numerous prestigious awards at the Canterbury A & P Show for nearly two decades.
Located at Gimmerburn in the sweeping landscaping of Maniototo, Central Otago, the farm comprises 2000ha of predominantly flat to rolling country with two summer run-blocks.
It is farmed by the fourth and fifth generation, Allan and Eris Paterson in partnership with their son Simon, his wife Sarah and their two young sons Hugo and Bede.Armidale Merino stud was first registered in 1940 by George Paterson, but due to World War Two the registration lapsed. In 1956 Bruce Paterson re-registered Armidale Merino Stud.
Simon says since the stud’s inception the focus has been on producing a merino with a large frame and superior wool weights with animal health and reproduction traits becoming more of a focus over the last few years.“We collect a large volume of raw data on many traits,” Simon says.
This includes numerous wool related traits, foot scores, faecal egg counts, ewe temperament, lamb survival and birth rank; sheep are weighed three times a year and also condition scored as well as scanned for carcass traits. Top young sires also have genomic information collected from them.Simon believes the variety of traits and longevity of data, going back 50 years, would as comprehensive as any merino breeder in New Zealand.
Since 2013 all stud stock have been EID tagged and recorded on Macrostock, a stock recording programme. “This is allowing us to collect more data easily and accurately.” From there all the raw data can be sent to Sheep Genetics Australia from which breeding values are generated on the Merino Select database.
Breeding values are available to clients who wish to use them, but the Paterson’s do not believe breeding values should be the sole selection criteria in choosing rams, but are a tool that can be used alongside visual appraisal.
In a normal season Armidale winters 7500 stock units including 3500 merino ewes, of which 1000 are stud ewes, 1000 half-bred ewes, 3000 hoggets and trading cattle.
The January sale will give bidders the opportunity to “have a crack” at the top 25 to 30 merino rams on offer with 17 to 20 micron wool.“We’ve decreased the number we keep in our reserves and a few of our top sale rams go to the auction.”

Quality genetics backed by quality data
PHOTOS: Buyers inspect the stock before the annual ram sale; Hugo and Bede Paterson help out in the pens; Armidale Merino rams have won numerous awards at Canterbury A & P Shows for over 20 years.

Also on offer will be 40 quaterbreds 18 to 22 micron and 50 halfbreds carrying 21 to 24.5 micron wool.“We’ve bred a really commercially profitable fine wool sheep. We are not just the new kids on the block, we’ve been trying to breed the highest performing sheep for the last 50-odd years.
“We’re not into continuously chasing the next fad. We are always trying to evolve our genetics without making wholesale changes.“Quality traits still matter a lot to us as well as structural assessment, plus we’ve got the performance data and the breeding values to back it up.”
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