Wool production and quality of three strains of Merino in a semi-arid environment under different grazing strategies.

Michael Friend, Geoffrey Robards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Three strains of Merino wethers (strong, medium and fine wool; n = 30 each; 3 years old) were grazed under 3 different management regimes (10 from each strain) in a semi-arid environment to test the hypothesis that attempting to keep liveweight stable at upper and lower levels would improve staple strength relative to sheep in which no attempt was made to limit liveweight fluctuations, and that strength and wool colour would not differ between strains. Sheep in the low grazing regime were managed in an attempt to keep liveweight stable at a level below that of sheep in the high grazing regime, which were managed in an attempt to keep liveweight stable at a level higher than sheep in the low grazing regime. For the control group, no attempt was made to limit liveweight fluctuations through grazing management. Sheep in the high grazing regime had greater liveweights throughout the experiment than sheep in the low grazing regime, while the liveweight of sheep in the control group was usually intermediate. Staple strength did not differ significantly between the strains, but was greater (P<0.05) for sheep in the high grazing regime (58.3 ± 2.2 N/ktex) than for sheep in the control (39.0 ± 2.3 N/ktex) and low (33.8 ± 2.3 N/ktex) grazing regimes, which did not differ significantly from each other. Wool yellowness was not affected by grazing regime, but was lower (P<0.05) in fine wool sheep (1.0 ± 0.1%) than medium wool sheep (1.4 ± 0.1%), which, in turn, was less (P<0.05) than in strong wool sheep (1.7 ± 0.1%). Staple strength was significantly (P<0.05) correlated with mean liveweight (0.27), mean fibre diameter (0.25), minimum fibre diameter (0.36), coefficient of variation of fibre diameter ('0.50), coefficient of variation of diameter along fibres ('0.48) and between fibres ('0.41). The results indicate staple strength was not adversely affected by the choice of strain in a semi-arid environment, and that nutritional management to limit fibrediameter variability can be an effective strategy to improve staple strength, regardless of strain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-44
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Production Science
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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