Improved profitability is the key to survival and growth in today’s business world. Within the agricultural sector, particularly the sheep industry, the pressure on farmland by other livestock systems makes this essential today, more so than ever before. Only too often prime lamb producers have not paid sufficient attention to the productivity of their ewe flock.
The Australian Finnsheep (Finnish Landrace) breed is renowned world-wide for its productivity as a crossbred ewe. This increased productivity is a result of the breed’s high levels of fertility and fecundity, the resultant heterosis, in addition to its inherent leanness and strong maternal traits. Finn-crossed rams also increase the performance output of the rams. Compared with the classic breeds, first-cross finnsheep give higher lambing numbers, improved thrift resulting in higher percentages of lambs at weaning, and excellent weight gain.
The ability of the Finn purebred to transmit its productive traits to Finn progeny is remarkable. South Australian research trials mated maiden Merino/Finn cross ewes to a Texel sire. The ewes lambed at 180% and weaned 160% lambs. Weaning at 14 weeks, the lambs averaged 37.7 kg. Expressed on a per ewe basis this equals 60.32 kg lamb. The crossbred ewe mothers had an average 61.2 kg live weight at the time of lamb weaning. This translated to an average 0.99 kg of total lamb body weight at weaning for each 1.00 kg of ewe body weight.
This typifies the productivity of the Finn breed and what it has to offer Australian prime lamb producers. The Finn will enable producers to have a greater number of lambs for early turn off and/or the ability for these lambs to be taken onto heavier weights. The current and potential development of lamb feedlotting within Australia for finishing prime lambs can only increase the importance of the finn breed in the future.