Changes looming on the horizon

After my last column I received a lot of feedback when mentioning that merino breeders who want to be a part of ZQ Merino must meet the criteria demanded by the brand and, should they have to tail and castrate the ram lambs, use anaesthetics or anti inflammatories.
To satisfy my curiosity, I researched the makeup of QZ Merino and who it is affiliated to.
ZQ Merino is promoted as a high- performance merino fibre ethical-regenerative-better for the animals, our planet and our people.
It is affiliated to the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) which amplifies their aims.
The RWS requires from all sites — from the wool farmer to seller to business transaction — to be certified and regularly audited.
The RWS logo is the trademark of the Textile Exchange which owns RWS.
It is a non-profit organisation, founded by La Rhea Peppers in Lamesa, Texas, in 2002, which began as the Organic Exchange marketing cotton.
There is a hint that strong wool could be accommodated in future.
While ZQ Merino has stated anaesthetics and antiinflammatory products must be used, there are five different products on the market and deer farmers are acquainted with them.
The pain relief varies from about a minute to 15 minutes.
As the sheep industry tries to add value to the lamb, it’s those little bits that have no value but play a big part in what customers demand.
The Alliance Group has conducted trials on tail lengths; lambs tailed at the new regulation length, lambs tailed 50mm longer and lambs not tailed at all.
There was no difference in growth rate.
In other growth rate trials on ram lambs, they grew 2kg faster and were leaner than castrated (wethers) at weaning.
However, when their carcasses were processed the dressed-out weight was much the same.
For Alliance’s niche market ‘‘Handpicked Lamb’’, one of the criteria is the lambs must be ewe or wether lambs because taste is a factor and ram lamb meat can, on the onset of puberty, taste strong and tainted.
On the other hand, Muslims prefer unblemished intact male lambs for their religious festivals.
There is growing debate pertaining to animal husbandry and practices, so more change is a certainty.