What are superior genetics for extra growth, or extra lambs weaned, worth to a commercial ram buyer?

When buying your replacement rams, are you capturing the sort of gains that are available with superior genetics?   Have you considered how much extra you could pay for a ram with superior Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs)?

Here are two examples;
If you have been purchasing sires with average ASBV figures each year, you will be improving at the same rate that average ram breeders are each year.  However, you could purchase rams in the top 10% of the drop, for example, and speed up the rate of genetic gain in your enterprise.

What are the genetics for Post-Weaning Weight (PWT) worth?

If you were to study the percentile report for Terminal sires born in 2012 (available to download from the Sheep Genetics website, ), you would find that an average ram (from the 50 percentile band) has an ASBV for post weaning weight of +11.1kg.  However, the ASBV for a ram just in the top 10 percent is +13.9kg.  This is a difference of 2.8kg.

Progeny will receive half of their genes from their father; therefore you could expect a difference of 1.4kg in the average weight of the progeny from these two grades of rams - if joined to the same standard of ewes.

A ram should sire at least 180 lambs in his lifetime. If they are each 1.4kg heavier this means an additional 252kg of liveweight, or around $550 in extra income, in the lifetime of the ram.

What are the genetics for Number of Lambs Weaned (NLW) worth?

From the current percentile report for 2012 Maternal sires (also available to download from the Sheep Genetics website), an average ram has an ASBV of +5% for NLW.  A ram just in the top 10% has an ASBV of +11% NLW.

This 6% difference should result in a 3% improvement in lambing percentage from each of his daughters.  A ram should sire 90 daughters in his lifetime. These daughters should breed for 5 years, so this will mean an extra 13.5 lambs from that ram’s daughters. If they are valued at $80 each, this is an increase in income of $1080.

Superior rams will normally cost you more, so it is not all profit. However, this gives you an idea of how to work out what to pay for a superior ram.

If you would like to learn more about how to use ASBVs when selecting rams and how to place a dollar value on superior ASBVs, attend a RamSelect workshop. 

For information about upcoming RamSelect workshops in South Australia contact Anne Collins at Rural Solutions SA on 0427 486 115 or

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