Falkland Islands Department of Agriculture

Saladero Farm

Saladero is comprised of a total of 2,023 hectares and is currently running the National Stud Flock and the National Beef Herd, under the Jim Gerrish managed intensive grazing National Stud Flock ewessystem to optimise pasture production and animal productivity.

Following several workshops with grazing management consultant Jim Gerrish, the Department has been fine tuning its rotational grazing system to maximise pasture growth and subsequent livestock productivity. Paddock records are kept so management can be reviewed and changed as required. Water has been an issue for some paddocks at Saladero, this has been addressed by identifying water holding areas and then excavating holes which fill up in winter.

Saladero has been utilised in recent years by a visiting PhD student investigating the effectiveness of legumes in fixing nitrogen in Falkland Island soils, initial findings are encouraging. A grass/legume trial has been in place for over 10 years which allows us to monitor the long term persistence of these species.

Saladero is undergoing a number of changes to make it more effective as a research and development and demonstration farm as well as being the home of the National Stud Flock (NSF) and the National Beef Herd (NBH). The DoA holds an annual ram sale in March, animals usually for sale are shearling rams and ex elite mature rams. Saladero also offers lease bulls on a yearly basis.

The NSF has reached the genetic goals set 5 years ago of having an average micron of 22; an average mature sheep greasy fleece weight of 5 kgs and improved carcase characteristics (mature live weight of 45kgs). This has been achieved through using an index to select sheep on all characteristics simultaneously and to ensure that as micron was reducing body size (carcase characteristics) and weight was increasing.

Recently a new parameter of faecal egg counting has been introduced to select NSF Polwarth rams that are resistant to internal parasites (worms). This caracteristic will be of great value to the organic farmers.

The NBH has been relocated back to Saladero to make it more readily accessible for farmers to visit and so that birth weights and other performance data can be more readily collected. For more information on the National Beef Herd, please visit the NBH page.

If you are interested in visiting Saladero please contact the Saladero Farm Manager, on 27357 to make an appointment.

 

Saladero

 

Genetic Improvement Programme

Sheep production in the Falkland Islands is based on a self replacing flock producing meat and wool. In the past the key focus wasNational Stud Flock rams on wool production with meat (mutton) being a secondary product sourced from older animals.

A number of sheep breeds have been used over the Islands' 150 year plus farming history. For much of this time, the Corriedale was the breed that was considered the best fit for the climate and extensive grazing system of the Falkland Islands. First developed in New Zealand, the Corriedale is a Merino crossed with a Lincoln.

They are considered to be hardy, adapted to a wide range of conditions and slightly more fertile than the purebred Merinos. Essentially they are dual purpose producing strong wool (25 – 32 microns) and mutton. Ewes can be used as prime lamb mothers.

Over the past two decades and in line with global trends, the profitability of enterprises producing strong wool and mutton has been in decline. In response to these changing global economic conditions, the Falkland Islands Government embarked on a genetic improvement programme beginning in the early 1990's and continuing today. The programmes aim was to reduce the fibre diameter of the flock while maintaining fleece weight and bodyweight amongst other selection criteria.

The process used in the early stages of this programme was the importation of several hundred live Polwarth stud sheep, which formed the nucleus of the National Stud Flock (NSF). The NSF remains today and is a pedigree and performance recorded flock. The main selection criteria for animals is based on the key production traits of fibre diameter, fleece weight, bodyweight and fertility. This objective selection is combined with key visual assessments of structure, wool quality (style), face cover and pigmented fibres. A new production trait relating to internal parasite resistance was included in 2008.genetics-300

The introduction of the NSF and the production of seedstock for the Falkland Island sheep industry have been instrumental in achieving a reduction in the average fibre diameter of the national flock from approximately 27.5 micron in 1990 to approximately 25 micron in 2008.

The process used in the latter stages of this programme has been to expand the breed base by introducing new breeds. This has included breeds such as Dohne Merino, South African Meat Merino (SAMM), Afrino, fine and medium wool Merinos, Cormos (comeback), Pool Dorset, Texel and Suffolk. The latest reproductive technologies of fresh and frozen embryo transfer (ET) along with laproscopic (AI) and cervical (CAI) artificial insemination have been used to propagate the breeds as quickly as possible and build sufficient critical mass for the Falkland Islands to be self sufficient. This has been done in response to changes within the domestic meat industry and the continued global trend towards finer fibre diameter. All animals used in the latter stage have been selected on their performance data (estimated breeding values when available) with a selection of the dual purpose breeds being monitored to measure their performance and adaptation to the Falkland Islands farming environment. The aim is to integrate the purebreds into the national flock to aid its future development by continuing its dual purpose production focus and provide the capability to produce lamb as well as mutton.

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