NSA CHAIRMAN VISITS EXPO PRADO, URUGUAY, 4-15 SEPTEMBER
Bryan Griffiths, Chairman of the National Sheep Association, and his wife Liz have been on a fact-finding mission to learn more about the sheep industry in Uruguay, taking in the noted Expo Prado agricultural show in Montevideo along with a visit to a Texel breeder near Conchillas and the SUL CEIDEG research station near Florida.
“The sheep flock has declined over recent years from over 12 million mainly fine-woolled Merinos to 6 million, 50% of which are dual purpose Corriedale ewes and 25% meat focused flocks. Amongst the high-end terminal sire breeders there was a clear desire to introduce British genetics and a frustration at the lack of import certification. Texels lead the field, but the historic focus on wool has led to problems registering some sheep where any black fibres appear.
The large flocks are concentrated on natural pastures in the north and west. Trial work at SUL is working on better grasses and clovers, and better management practices especially at lambing time, to improve output. Those running the trial questioned whether improved meat outputs would be negated by increased costs and loss of value of wool on the finished hogget.
The British Pavilion at Expo Prado was excellent, with Harper Adams having a place there, several Uruguayan students having studied there last year. Any significant uptake of British genetics could go hand-in-hand with knowledge transfer and sharing best practice.