Decisions made when choosing rams for your flock will ultimately influence your enterprise's profitability for the next 10 to 15 years.
Therefore when selecting rams breeders should weigh up many factors.
This was the advice given by sheep industry frontman, Matthew Coddington of Roseville Park stud, Dubbo, when he spoke to delegates attending the 2019 Poll Dorset Conference in Orange last week.
"Factors should include current flock performance, the environment under which the flock is grazed, market specifications for the turnoff of animals and alternative sires with relative information," Mr Coddington said.
"A breeding objective is generally specific to a particular market therefore it is important to understand customer and market requirements."
He said breeders should monitor their current flock performance against customer or market requirements because, depending on the market, some traits have greater economic importance than others.
And they must also consider how their performance and requirements may change over time.
"Some traits are highly heritable or passed on readily from one generation to another," Mr Coddington said.
"Greater progress towards breeding objectives can be achieved by targeting traits that are highly heritable.
Greater progress towards breeding objectives can be achieved by targeting traits that are highly heritable
"Focus on traits of economic importance rather than traits that are more to do with tradition or more to do with your personal preference."
Mr Coddington said once producers have their breeding program developed tracking and benchmarking their flock is the next step.
"Producers have to ask themselves, can they track their genetic gain, can they identify their strengths and weaknesses in their flock," he said.
"They need to know their antagonistic genes - comparing even muscle depth to meat eating quality - and can they identify the outliers and freaks within the industry to improve these weaknesses."
Speaking to the group of delegates, Mr Coddington asked what percentage of rams were the group selling before 2018.
Some attendees answered as high has 100 per cent of rams, but when it came to the last 12 months, most said these figures were back to 50pc.
"You are now in the same boat as Merino breeders - most Merino breeders only sell about 50pc of the rams they produce," Mr Coddington said.
His recommendation was to discover a unique selling point, set a breeding objective that is balanced, and be adaptive and innovative to enter into those markets.
"When you discover a unique selling point, you can pretty much split it three ways - what your stud or rams do well, what your market or consumer wants and what your competitor does well," Mr Coddington said.
"As business owners we have to come up with new ideas or breeding objectives to take us through the next 20 years so the business doesn't go into decline."
He warned not to be content to just keep up with the competition.
"Refusing to respond is a recipe for failure. Your business will go backwards and your breeding objective will not stay in line with the competition or markets," he said.
His persuasion? Embrace every breeding philosophy.
"Breeding, selling and marketing rams, and developing a breeding objective is about having an open mind and making your rams in demand to all ram purchasers of all breeding philosophies," he said.
"You must keep innovating and developing your breeding objective because change is the law of nature."
Mr Coddington said many studs fail to implement new and unique modifications when developing their breeding plan, instead dragging out old strategies and concepts while marketing their product to a new market.
In closing, Mr Coddington's advice to the breeders was to measure their sheep so they can map their genetic gain and quantify it, preempt markets so they can look into the future and educate clients and agents and take them along on the journey.