Sheep farmers in north-eastern Australia have used a new breeding technique to increase their herd sizes by a third and have even created a wool roving program to supplement their wool rowing.
According to ABC Radio’s The Drum, the new breed is called white wool, which is produced by combining the wool from white-faced sheep and white-coloured wool.
White wool has a very distinctive appearance that is not very common in Australia, but it has a unique, distinctive, and resilient gene pool, according to the ABC.
It is also able to withstand drought, which has been a real challenge for sheep farmers.
“They’re really good at adapting to changing conditions,” Professor Kevin Smith, a research scientist at the Australian Research Council (ARC) told The Drum.
“So if they’re not in a very good area of drought, they’re able to get in to those conditions.”
White wool, as it is named, has been bred for drought resistance, according the ARC, and is also very resilient to cold.
The new sheep can travel in packs and can tolerate temperature changes as low as 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity levels as low 40 percent, according ARC.
While white wool has been used by farmers in Tasmania and northern New South Wales, the farmers who have been using it have used it for the first time in northern Queensland.
“We’ve been using this in a lot of areas around Goulburn, which in itself is a pretty good area,” said Peter Smith, who is the owner of Sheep Rowing Australia.
“It has a great resilience to conditions in terms of heat and drought, and the sheep can also adapt to that.”
The program has also been used in remote areas, such as the Pilbara region of Western Australia.”[It’s] an opportunity for farmers in those remote areas to see the benefits of the sheep breed and to get on board with the technology and to learn how to use it in a way that’s good for the sheep, not just the farmer,” Smith said.
While sheep farmers have been able to make a profit on their wool, they haven’t been able get the same benefits from it.
“What we’re seeing with this new breed that we’ve been able do is increase the size of the herd by about 15 percent, which makes it much easier to go on to market and sell, but the impact on the environment, it’s really not good,” Smith added.
According the ARC’s Smith, the sheep roving has been the most successful of the new breeding techniques, as more and more sheep are being able to adapt to drought and weather conditions.
“A lot of these farms are very good in the dry season, they’ve been doing good in that, but in the hot season it can be challenging, especially in the south-west,” he said.
“This new breed can really take advantage of those challenges.”