Choosing a ram stud

You will need to do research to find a stud that matches the production traits you want to improve.

Stud field days, ram displays and local shows are all good opportunities to talk to stud representatives, and to compare what each has to offer.

Similar breeding objectives

Once you have defined your breeding objective, choose a stud with a similar objective.

Ask the stud how:

  • it aims to improve the traits of its own rams
  • long it expects these improvements to take.

Reputable studs will have no hesitation in outlining their breeding objective. Make sure it can be defined in terms of measurable outcomes.

Ask your stud to provide a ram of high quality in whichever area you are looking to increase productivity.

It can be difficult to find a stud which allows you an increase in all areas of productivity, so you should focus on single breeding objectives to make gradual improvements, rather than improvements across the board.

If you consistently buy rams from the same stud, the genetic changes in your flock will follow that of the stud. If you purchase rams from a stud that is not making progress or is going backwards, your flock will do the same.

Similar environment

Begin your search for a suitable stud in your local area. Locally bred rams will have already adapted to the environment and will express appropriate genes.

Past performance

Some ways you can assess different studs include:

  • Wether trials—randomly selected teams of wethers from different studs are run together and their performance is measured. Check to see if the stud or its clients have been active in wether trials, and what the results have been.
  • Bloodline comparisons—wether trials where each bloodline is represented by several teams. Merino Bloodline Performance trials are a national series of linked wether trials.
  • On-farm trials—compare more than 1 stud through trial mating of rams to the ewes on your farm.
  • Central Test Sire Evaluation—a national series of linked progeny tests to compare sires. Visit Merino Superior Sires to find out about linked progeny tests that compare sire.
  • Sheep Genetics—the national genetic information and evaluation service for the meat and wool sectors of the sheep industry.
  • Long-term performance of the stud's commercial flock – you will need to read at least 5 years of all fleece wool test certificates to eliminate environmental effects.
  • Performance of client flocks—run under similar conditions to your own.

Consider how they select worker rams

Ask the stud how they:

  • select their worker rams
  • use measured and visual information—visual selection should be used to remove sheep that have some physical fault, but a higher level of objective selection will lead to a greater gain in objective traits.
  • use a selection index and what that contains.

A stud should use a selection index based on their breeding objective to improve genetic progress. This will have flow-on effects to commercial clients.

Ask to look at the list of rams from which the stud chose its sires. This should show you if the top performers were used based on objective information or the selection index value.

Good management

It's important to have confidence in the stud's management, and a good relationship with the stud master and classer. You must also be satisfied that you are being treated fairly and on an equal footing with the stud's other clients.

Talk to your stud if you have complaints, such as:

  • latest replacements not up to scratch
  • flock wool type not improving
  • high number of stags or black lambs.