February 2014 – Client Evaluation

A client was challenged to evaluate the value of Merino and Dohne rams within their flock.
The measurements, taken at approximately 10 months, showed that the Dohne cross lambs cut approx 1kg/head more wool and had body weights approximately 8-9kg each more than the control group of Merino lambs. Ewe groups were chosen to be equivalent to evaluate any differences between Merino rams or Dohne rams.

The results of this evaluation have led the client to change rams from Merino to Dohne in their self- replacing flock situation.

Economic evaluation in simple terms

An additional 1kg of wool worth approx $8
+ 9kg of body weight approx $14 carcass value
= approx $22/head

If there were only 50 lambs / ram / year this would be worth an additional $1100 per ram to the grower for each year the ram was used.

This goes partway to explaining why commercial Dohne rams have often fetched a higher price at auction than their merino counterparts.
Clients with some years of experience using Dohnes in their flock understand this principle well.

If you are unsure of the benefit that Dohne rams could be to your enterprise, conduct your own evaluation. It can be as simple as dividing a mob of ewes equally (so as not to bias any results) and joining one group to Dohne rams and the other with your current practice. Treat them equally well. After a given time take measurements that are relevant profit drivers to your business – for example you may choose lambing/weaning percentage or simply as described above wool cut per head and average body weights. Compare the group averages. You may have more complex measurements that you wish to test, but fair comparison within your own enterprise does not have to be difficult and gives results relevant to your own location and management.