The UltraWhite as it stands today is a hardy, structurally sound, high performing easy-care sheep that has been developed to meet the wide range of needs of the Australian lamb industry.
Its good fertility, strong mothering ability and it’s great milking capacity, along with its good growth and muscling capabilities, make it a unique combination of sheep genetics that is serving the needs of the industry extremely well.
Whilst the UltraWhites are now providing a breed of sheep that is performing as high if not higher than any other “easy-care breed”, we at Hillcroft Farms can see opportunities to further add value to the genetics of this breed in the following ways
1. By adding a fertility gene to a portion of the flock we will be able to considerably increase the scanning percentage of UltraWhite sired ewe flocks. This can be done without increasing the incidence of triplets in these flocks beyond what is normal for most crossbred or British breed flocks.
This will give the majority of ewes in the flock, carrying this gene, the potential to have and rear twins. Under a wide range of Australian conditions the UltraWhites are quite capable of doing this.
Work is well underway to achieve this goal. At this stage it is estimated we should have limited number of UltraWhite rams available, carrying these genetics, by October, 2020.
2. A gene to add approximately 10% additional lean meat to the carcasses of prime UltraWhite lambs is also being put into a small section of our flock. This will greatly add to the value of the lamb carcass in the eyes of the processor and retailer by giving them more lean meat, and not fat and bone, to sell whilst costing no extra or possibly even less for the farmer to produce.
Introducing these genetics into a small portion of our UltraWhite flock is also well underway and it is also estimated to have limited numbers available in October 2020.
The impact of both these genes on management and profitability will be thoroughly “road tested” on farm before release in 2020.
Eating quality tests will need to be carried out before the sheep carrying the extra muscling gene are released for sale to the industry.
This is to ensure eating quality is not compromised with the changes in the genetic structure of the sheep carrying these genes.
The introduction of one or both of these genes into the UltraWhites, once all testing is complete, will only be into a portion of our flock to allow lamb producers the choice of rams with or without these new genes.
Achieving these goals will add another dimension of profitability to the lamb industry in Australia, making it, by far, the most profitable breed of sheep to farm. It will also seriously challenge for land use opportunities and profitability in more areas of Australia currently not being used for sheep meat production.
Meanwhile strong emphasis will continue to be placed on the selection for structure, hardiness, growth and muscling in the UltraWhite rams offered for sale each year.
The future of the UltraWhite breed is extremely bright and can only be limited by our lack of vision and/or lateral thinking should we not keep looking for opportunities to improve the adaptability and efficiency of an already outstanding breed.