THE BREED The characteristics of the breed

The SA Mutton Merino (SAMM) is a polled, high potential dual purpose breed with a medium to large frame size.  The breed plays a significant role in the meat and wool industry of South Africa. 

The outstanding traits of the breed are:

1.    SUPER FERTILITY with more lambs (more multiples) and thus a higher income, higher selection intensity and genetic improvement.

2.    HIGH MOTHERING ABILITY with a high milk production and therefore achieving better lamb survival to weaning age.

3.    EARLY SEXUAL MATURITY ensures that young ewes are mated earlier thus reducing the generation interval.

4.    ADAPTABILITY and HARDINESS are necessary for efficient production and the breed does well in both high and low rainfall areas (under intensive and extensive conditions).

5.    VIGOROUSNESS (VITALITY) of the breed means greater longevity, more lambs surviving till weaning and a higher income (low mortality). The breed is known for its strong constitution.

6.    EXCEPTIONAL LAMB GROWTH RATES are obtained and thus heavier lambs can be marketed earlier at high prices. No sheep breed can equal its efficient feed conversion. Feedlots prefer SA Mutton Merinos and are prepared to pay a premium price for good quality lambs.

7.    TOP QUALITY CARCASSES are produced by the Mutton Merino as fat is evenly distributed over the entire carcass. Heavy lamb carcasses of up to 27 kg still achieve A2 and A3 grades on the hook (meat grading). Lambs do not normally become excessively fat.

8.    MEDIUM TO STRONG PURE WHITE WOOL is produced which tends to be over crimped in comparison with Merino wool. The ewes produce an average of 3.4 kg wool without kemp and a fibre diameter of 18 - 25 micron. Rams produce an average of 5 kg wool per year of 19 - 27 micron. The average micron of most breeders and flock farmers for their total shearing is 22 – 23.5 micron.

9.    NON-SELECTIVE GRAZING HABITS and the ability to utilise low grade roughage and harvest residues very efficiently.

10.  RESISTANCE TO PARASITES AND DISEASE. The breed has a high resistance to    internal parasites (such as wire-worm) and is less susceptible to disease, particularly Johne’s disease.

11.  PARTICULAR CROSS BREEDING SUCCESS has been achieved. Within the ‘wool family’ cross-breeding is very popular and successful as the excellent growth and reproduction traits of the breed are transferred without any risk of wool contamination.

The breed has been used as a sire line in the development of three synthetic South African breeds, namely the Dohné Merino, the Afrino and the Dormer. The Vandor breed also used SA Mutton Merino rams for some time to improve the fecundity and growth of their breed. This provides sufficient proof of the cross-breeding performance of the breed.

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