You are currently viewing the Sheep CRC archived website for the period 1 July 2007 – 30 June 2014
This website has been replaced and the information provided here is for archival reference only
To view the current Sheep CRC website please visit Hide This Message

The page you are currently viewing is part of the Sheep CRC archived website for the period 1 July 2007 – 30 June 2014. The information provided within this page is no longer actively updated and may now be out of date. For up to date information please visit the current Sheep CRC website at

Ewe Selection for Commercial Producers

While ram selection alone can yield significant improvement selection of ewes as well will accelerate progress.

The key step you should take before selecting ewes for breeding is to set your breeding objective. This provides the standard against which you will assess your ewes.

When selecting for a trait or characteristic, the most effective way is to directly measure or assess that characteristic. For example, you can estimate fibre diameter based on crimp frequency and handle, however, this is not very accurate compared to directly measuring a mid-side or pin-bone sample of fleece.

However, you must also weigh up the cost of individual testing of traits compared to visual estimates with the improvement in selection accuracy you will achieve.

Generally, it is cost-effective to measure the fibre diameter and fleece weight of hoggets in fine wool flocks and some medium wool flocks. Before doing this, you can assess the benefit of making direct measurement of fibre diameter, fleece weight and body weight (or combinations of these) for your sheep by using the Sheep CRC’s On-Farm Fibre Measurement Calculator (OFFM Calculator) - click on the 'Products and Training Resources' tab below to download this calculator.

For prime lamb breeders (both Merino and other breeds), weigh potential ewe replacements as an aid to selection.

Note that a key element for selection is having plenty of ewes from which to select. This means that your flock needs to be achieving high reproductive success shown by high lambmarking and weaning rates.

For visual traits a subjective score should be used (e.g. wrinkle score as an indicator of flystrike susceptibility). A booklet on Visual Sheep Scores is available by clicking on the 'Products and Training Resources' tab below.

Choose from the tabs below to find more detailed information.

Practical Wisdom Notes Products & Training Resources Reports, Articles and Presentations Websites

Practical Wisdom Notes / Fact Sheets

Practical Wisdom Note - Using ASBVs

ASBVs stand for Australian Sheep Breeding Values. They are the national language for benchmarking sheep based on their genetic merit and are produced by Sheep Genetics. ASBVs describe a sheep’s breeding value for a trait, e.g. fleece weight or body weight, and express the relative breeding value of sheep across different breeding flocks of that breed (or across breeds in the case of Terminal breeds). They are equivalent to estimated breeding values (EBVs) used in other livestock industries e.g. BREEDPLAN in the beef cattle industry.

Products & Training Resources

ASBV Case Studies

Several case studies are available on the use and benefits of ASBVs - download the individual case studies below.

Australian Sheep Breeding Values - A guide for ram buyers

This guide is provided to help you understand the complexities of breeding profitable yet functional sheep that are right for your business.

Merino Sheep Breeding Trainer Guide

The Merino Sheep Breeding Trainer Guide has been developed by Sheep CRC and Meat & Livestock Australia to allow vocational and education trainers (primarily in the TAFE, Agricultural College and School systems) to deliver up to date knowledge and skills in the area of Merino breeding to their students. It is designed to be used in conjunction with three Power Point presentations, produced by the Sheep CRC on developing a breeding objective, selecting a stud and rams and selecting ewes.

Visual Scores Guide

Visually assessed traits are included in the breeding objective of all stud and commercial sheep breeders, regardless of their target market or environment.

Reports, Articles and Presentations

Getting Started with Sheep Genetics

Sheep Genetics provides you with practical information on the genetic potential of your sheep. Sheep are ranked according to various production characteristics using Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) across flock or Flock Breeding Values (FBVs) within flock. See Sheep Genetics brochures available for download below. To download other publications click here.

Publications - Genetics

Download the genetics publications below.

Sheep CRC 2010 Conference Papers - Genetics

This Conference combined world class science with its practical application.

Sheep CRC 2010 Conference Papers - Sheep and their management

This Conference combined world class science with its practical application.

Sheep CRC Genomics Breakfast Workshop - LambEx 2012

During LambEx 2012 the Sheep CRC hosted a genomics breakfast workshop - download the papers from the workshop below.

SNP Chip - revolutionising genetics

This article appears courtesy of Meat & Livestock Australia (

Wool meets Meat - 2006 Conference Papers - Genetics

These proceedings are from the showcase conference of the Australian Sheep Industry CRC 'Wool meets Meat - tools for a modern sheep enterprise' conference held in Orange (NSW) during 2006.

Web Sites