Hands-on approach at Yanco

Group photo is of the Year 10 Animal Management Students with the sale rams. The students will be running the sale.
Group photo is of the Year 10 Animal Management Students with the sale rams. The students will be running the sale.

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Yanco Agricultural High School strives to educate young men and women in sheep production.  

Their White Suffolk flock of 130 breeders was established in 2003 and has become an integral part of the curriculum.

Students learn about sheep management and have first-hand involvement in the breeding decisions and husbandry activities, including the selection of semen sires and backup sires for the artificial insemination program, performing the labour for artificial insemination, LAMBPLAN scanning, pregnancy scanning, lambing, crutching and shearing.

They also learn the theory behind ruminant nutrition and feed budgeting, pregnant ewe management and research breeding technologies and lamb marketing options.

Over the past six years, the stud has embraced objective measurement and data collection for LAMBPLAN. They were one of the first in the industry to embrace genomics; DNA testing a significant proportion of both ram lambs and ewe lambs to select for meat eating quality.

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The stud aims to produce good quality commercial rams suited to clients producing prime lambs for the trade market with a carcass weight of 18 to 24 kilograms, with desirable performance figures for economically important traits such as growth, muscle and fat and a particular emphasis on meat eating quality.

Being on the forefront of technology and data collection in the industry is essential in educating students. They have been using electronic tags for the past five years and utilising Matesel to assist with breeding selection decisions. All lambs are electronic tagged, blood sampled for DNA testing and weighed at birth, and the dams scored for maternal behaviour and lambing ease. Throughout each production cycle, weights, faecal egg counts and muscle and fat depth data are collected. All older ewes are artificially inseminated and ewe lambs are yard mated at seven months of age to improve genetic gain. In 2016, they undertook an embryo transfer program using elite donor ewes.

The 2016 sale saw a 100% clearance at an average of $893 and a top price of $1500. All rams went to commercial producers.

This year’s sale will be conducted by students on Thursday September 14, offering 36 performance White Suffolk rams.

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