Flocks of Saxon (ex Tokanui Research Station), Merryville (ex Tara Hills Research Station) and Fine Peppin (ex Tokanui Research Station) Merino sheep were established at the Whatawhata Research Centre to investigate their relative productivity under North Island hill country conditions. Production data were collected for five years. The Fine Peppin ewes had a higher reproductive rate (0.1 ± 0.05 (standard error of difference) lambs weaned/ewe joined) with a higher lamb birth weight (0.37 ± 0.08 kg), lamb weaning weight (1.9 ± 0.4 kg) and yearling weight (3.5 ± 0.6 kg), a higher ewe greasy fleece weight (1.2 ± 0.1 kg) that was longer (7 ± 2 mm) and coarser (3.0 ± 0.2 μm) with a greater coefficient of variation of fibre diameter (2.2 ± 0.4 %), lower brightness (-1.3 ± 0.4 CIE Y units) and more yellow (1.1 ± 0.2 CIE (Y-Z) units) than the Saxon. The Merryville was intermediate between the other two strains for most characteristics. The yearling fleece of each strain exhibited similar trends to the adult fleece. On the basis of the measured performance, and applying wool and lamb price trends between 2007/08 and 2011/12, the differential returns per ewe of the Fine Peppin would be expected to exceed that of the Saxon by $8.80 with the Merryville being intermediate.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 73, Hamilton, 136-142, 2013
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