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:
with more lambs (more multiples) and
thus a higher income, higher selection
intensity and genetic improvement.
HIGH MOTHERING ABILITY
with a high milk production and
therefore achieving better lamb survival
to weaning age.
EARLY SEXUAL MATURITY
ensures that young ewes are mated
earlier thus reducing the generation
ADAPTABILITY and HARDINESS
are necessary for efficient production
and the breed does well in both high and
low rainfall areas (under intensive and
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.
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.
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.
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.
NON-SELECTIVE GRAZING HABITS
and the ability to utilise low grade
roughage and harvest residues very
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.
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
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.