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Central West Genetics

Dohne Merino In Uruguay

“Influencing the world’s major sheep producing countries”.

AGR. GABRIEL CAPURRO
President SCMD
Montevideo, Uruguay

URUGUAY is a small country of 176,000 square kilometers with a population of 3.4 million people.

The climate is mild sub tropical with average temperature of 17.5 degrees centigrade with an annual rainfall of 1250 mm. In the last 20 years there has been an increase of rainfall of 15%. It is a country where its landscape is composed of soft rolling hills and the highest point is 514 meters above sea level.

The country has a very small economy dependant on the agricultural sector and services, with no minerals, with no petrol and with no other industries except for those related to the agricultural
sector. 95% of the territory is useful for agriculture with approximately 80% of the soil used for cattle and sheep,10% for crops and 10% for forestry.

Wool was the primary export for almost all of the last century and only at the end of that period was it surpassed by beef cattle (15%), soybeans (14%), dairy products (8%), cellulose (7%) and rice (5%). Today wool and wool products represent 3% of the country’s exports and sheep meat less than 1%.

Historically sheep culture has been of fundamental importance in the development of the economy and farmers in the country.

Throughout the 20th Century our country had an average sheep population of 18,000,000 heads and an average of 9,500,000 heads of cattle; a ratio of two sheep to one
cattle.

Today, livestock numbers are 12,154,000 heads of cattle and 6,562,000 heads of sheep. A reasonable composition of the livestock should be 11,000,000 heads of cattle and 11,000,000
heads of sheep. A 1 to 1 ratio would provide a higher income and more stability of the systems of livestock production with the prices we actually have for these products.

Gabriel Capurro at La Pastoral Merino Dohne Stud, Uruguay with his 2017 sale rams.

The Merino Dohne In Uruguay
HISTORICALLY the distribution of the sheep population by breed in Uruguay, has been 61% Corriedale, 21% Merino, 10% Polwarth, and 8% other breeds. As a consequence of the price differences between fine and medium wool in the last clips, Corriedale is currently 45%, Merino 28%, Polwarth 10% and others breeds 17%.

 

The Corriedale breed is efficient for meat production in our country, but the low value of the wool produced has made the breed less competitive. Whereas the Merino is efficient
in producing high value wool the reproduction and growth indexes determine a limited production of meat.

The target for sheep breeders is to improve the income of the flock, producing more meat and wool of high value with a low cost sheep, rustic and easy to care.

Merino Dohne is the best option and that is why it was introduced in Uruguay in 2002. With prices today for wool and sheep meat and the average technical coefficients for the different breeds in our country, Dohne has the highest gross margin per stock unit, (1 stock unit = 6 breeding ewes). Dohne gross margin is actually 56% from meat and 44% from wool.

Figure 1: Gross Margin different breeds US$/stock unit.

Our main research Institutions have shown great interest in the breed and have implemented various research trials. The results have confirmed the conditions of the Dohne for improved profitability of the sheep production systems with high production of quality meat and high value fine wool. The contributions and results will be presented at the next International Conference by
scientists and researchers of the National Research Institute (INIA), the Uruguayan Wool Secretariat (SUL), and the University of Agriculture.

With the support of the result of these trials, the breed has been growing constantly since the introduction in our country.

For the last four years, the Dohne annual ram sales has sold with the best average prices, and the last year equalled the number of sires sold by Merino Breed.

Attendees at the 2017 La Pastoral Merino Dohne Stud Annual Sale, Uruguay.

THE PRE-TOUR and International Dohne Conference takes place in Uruguay from 16 to 20 April 2018, will be followed by a post Conference tour through Argentina and Chile from 23 to
29 April.

It’s an honour to welcome the delegations from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Peru and South Africa and we hope to be able to return the hospitality and the important contribution and experiences
extended to all the delegates at the Global Conference 2016 in Australia.