WA Merino genetics could soon be headed across the Indian Ocean to South Africa.
Two South African Merino producers Dykie De Villiers, Waterval stud, Noupoort, Northern Cape and commercial producer Craig Ferreira, De Aar, Northern Cape and their agent Bennie Steyn, BKB, De Aar, were in WA last week, visiting Merino and Poll Merino studs across the Great Southern region with Elders stud stock representative Nathan King, looking for new genetics to inject into their flocks.
For the trio it was their first visit to WA looking at Merinos and they were impressed by what they saw.
During their three-day stay they visited nine Merino studs as well as Ashley Lock’s new ram shed in Narrogin, where more than 100 rams are being prepared for 20 studs.
While it may have been their first trip to WA, they had seen WA Merinos before when they attended the Australian Sheep & Wool Show in Bendigo, Victoria, a few years ago.
Mr Ferreira said after visiting the studs last week they believed WA Merinos were even better than they remembered from Bendigo.
All three were very impressed with the Merinos they saw and Mr Ferreira said they hoped to be able to use the genetics to improve the wool quality in South Africa.
“Wool quality on our Merinos is something we don’t have back home in South Africa and it is something we must work on improving given where the wool market is,” Mr Ferreira said.
Mr Steyn said the sheep and wool markets in South Africa were experiencing good times at present similar to Australia.
“He said while prices are good, the seasons over the past three to four years have been very tough for producers, thankfully this year is a good year, season-wise,” Mr Steyn said.
“Like Australia, wool prices are at a record high at the moment, we are averaging 211 rand per kilogram clean which equates to 2100 cents a kilogram clean in Australian terms.
Sheep prices are also similar to those being achieved in Australia.
Mr Steyn said the average lamb price was 82R/kg (A$8.20/kg) and mutton was averaging 60R/kg ($6.00/kg).
“In terms of breeding ewes in lamb carrying three months wool, they are selling for 2500R ($250).”
When it comes to their operations in South Africa Mr Ferreira runs 2000 Poll Merino ewes on 5500 hectares while Mr De Villiers runs 3000 ewes (both Merino and Poll Merino) on his 10,000ha property.
Prior to heading home the trio will also visit studs in South Australia and Victoria.