The Australian merino is a breed of fine-fleeced sheep bred in Australia when the American Vermont and French Rambouille are crossed.
- Origin of the breed
- Description of the Australian Merino
- Types of Australian Merino
- Productivity <
- Features of the maintenance and care of the Australian merino
These sheep are smaller in comparison with meat breeds and have a very high-quality, delicious coat, consisting of very soft and thick hairs. The thickness of one hair does not exceed the thickness of a human.
The fleece of these sheep is very much appreciated. It is indicative that one Australian merino is able to give 3 times more wool than any other sheep.
Australian merino is a very old breed, the ancestors of these sheep lived in Asia Minor. Merinos were bred in Spain (los merinos) in the 13th century. as a result of crossbreeding of local sheep with North African breeds and sheep from the Middle East. These animals were recognized as national values, and their export was banned for a long time under pain of the death penalty.
Only in the XVIII century.After the weakening of the Spanish kingdom, which emerged victorious from the war with Great Britain, several merinos were taken to other European countries and to Australia, where further improvement continued. Spanish sheep were taken as a basis in the selection process. Then Rambouillet and Vermont were added. Thus, several types of merino were derived, which differ in some features of the exterior and in the quality of the rune.
Description of the Australian merino
These animals are medium in size and weight. Their body is dry, strong, the backbone is light. The head is light, the nose is both straight and with a small hump (in males). Males are hornless, characterized by the presence of strongly curved spiral horns, females are mostly hornless.
The body is proportional, regular in shape, with a deep and wide chest, a straight back and lower back. The height of the withers exceeds the height of the back. The animal has strong strong legs, and the position of the limbs is correct. The skin of animals is thin, elastic and dense.
A distinctive feature of the Australian merino is the presence of skin folds. The neck, depending on the type of breed, may either have no folds at all, or possess only 2-3, or have a fairly developed bourd.The fleece covers the animal’s head to eye level, and the limbs to the hock and wrist joint.
The structure of the hair is staple, the fleece is uniform and quite long, moderately curved (the most delicate and finest at the withers), has a gray-earthy color on the outer surface. Lanolin (grease), which protects against moisture, white. The hairs of the magnificent fleece of the Australian merino are up to 25 microns in thickness, the thickness of the wool is up to 9000 fibers per 1 square. see
Types of Australian merino
Depending on the type of coat, 3 types of Australian merino are distinguished:
Small-fleece sheep of the Australian Merino breed, characterized by the thinnest and unusually delicate hair, skin without folds. The weight of a sheep is about 70 kg, and that of a sheep is about 40 kg.
The yield of 70th quality wool is up to 5 kg. Sheep of this type are more suitable than others for areas with a cool climate and frequent rains, since their fleece is less prone to decay.
Special medium-fleece sheep with a very thick white coat color with folds on the neck. The weight of males reaches 85 kg, females – up to 44 kg. The yield of wool of 64-66 quality is up to 8 kg.
They are widely used in lowland regions with a dry climate. The type of Medium is divided into 2 subtypes:
Coarse-haired large animals of a strong warehouse with dense and dense beige hair. A ram has a weight of up to 95 kg, a sheep – up to 50 kg. The yield of wool of quality 60-62 reaches 10 kg. This type does not tolerate a humid climate, and its coat is not resistant to decay. Despite these differences, each of the types described has high-quality wool.
It is necessary to pay special attention to the Australian New Zealand-type merino, whose wool has healing properties and is an effective tool in the treatment of rheumatism, muscle inflammation, since it has properties of high hygroscopicity , maintains body temperature at a constant level and perfectly passes air. It should be emphasized that due to the negative ionization index, fibers do not attract dust particles.
Taking into account such a variety of types and subtypes of these sheep, there is a reasonable opinion among breeders, which is also supported by MI Selionova, namely : “It would be advisable to combine all fine-fleeced sheep breeds into one.”
Australian merino is valued primarily for its magnificent, finest and delicate wool, however, it has good meat properties. The length of the fibers is 60-90 mm. These sheep produce up to 12 kg of wool per year with a pure fiber yield of 53%.When shearing, the hair is removed from the animal in the form of a whole fleece, then it is processed and cleaned.
Merino wool is ideal for the textile industry, its quality is excellent for the production of fabrics of various densities, has high resistance and warming properties. The advantage of the fleece of these sheep is that it practically does not absorb the smell of sweat, and things made from it remain fresh much longer than made from other types of wool.
In addition to wool and meat, lanolin of these sheep, which is characterized by pronounced antibacterial properties, was widely used . It is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and therapeutic agents.
Features of keeping and caring for the Australian merino
The Australian merino is characterized by endurance. This animal is able to make long transitions when searching for a suitable pasture. However, keeping it is not the easiest thing compared to keeping other breeds.
Basic rules for keeping merino:
- The shepherd must be warm, dry, able to protect from draft.
- Be sure to regularly ventilate the room and the presence of fresh water.
- In spring, sheep should not be herded for grazing until the end of April, when the night dew has time to dry in the morning, since humidity is harmful to the tender merino wool.
- Animal walking in winter should be sufficient.
- Wool needs regular bathing with disinfectants to prevent stalling and deterioration. For swimming, you need to fill a prepared hole of sufficient depth with water and a disinfectant and drive a flock over it.
- Sheep hooves require special attention: they need to be cleaned 4-5 times annually.
- High-quality food is the key to health and productivity of this breed. Suitable food for merino is oats, barley, hay, root crops, bran.
- Be sure to give a vitamin complex, minerals and salt.
- Timely veterinary service.
The special structure of the jaw apparatus allows the merino to cut the plants to the very root, as well as to graze on the pasture after other livestock. thermal insulation and perfectly protects animals both in winter frosts and in summer heat. However, in very hot regions, this breed has not taken root. Sheep reach maturity and are ready for breeding at the age of 1 year. Pregnancy lasts 143-150 days.
Preferred is the appearance of lambs in March-April, which should be considered before mating. Australian merinos, who are quite demanding in care, repeatedly pay for the cost of leaving after a haircut.