Important SRS Milestones

Jim Watts



    • In 1937, the Australian researchers, Drs. Belschner, Carter and Newton Turner published compelling data that showed plain bodied sheep produce as much wool  and wool of better quality, than wrinkly sheep

    • In 1937, Drs. Seddon and Belschner published their scientific findings showing that plain bodied Merino sheep, unlike wrinkly Merino sheep, are naturally resistant to fly strike and do not require mulesing. They clearly showed that breeding plain bodied Merino sheep was the solution to fly strike.  

    • Despite this clear direction for the Merino industry of Australia, the breeding of wrinkly Merino sheep continued to be the mainstream activity with mulesing for breech strike prevention and chemicals for body strike prevention being adopted in nearly all Merino flocks in Australia to the present day.

    • In 1986, Dr Jackson and colleagues, presented the results of genetic selection experiments that showed Merino breeding methods focussing on thick skins (towards wrinkly sheep)  and selecting for high clean fleece weight resulted in sheep with poor wool quality and regressing towards primitive two-coated animals.

    • From 1984 to 1998, Drs. Moore, Jackson and colleagues, published scientific evidence to indicate that Merino sheep with advanced quantity and quality of fleece can be bred by  applying the principles of pre-papilla cell dynamics.

    • From 1988 to 1994, Dr. Watts developed a new breeding system  derived from an understanding of the pre-papilla hypothesis of Moore and co-workers, and based on improving the fibre density and length of the fleeces of  Merino sheep, alpacas and Angora goats.  The system is called the SRS® breeding system.

    • From 1988 to the present day, Dr. Watts has applied the SRS® breeding system to Merino studs across Australia.

    • The Merino sheep bred in this way have been shown to be smooth, plain bodied sheep which are naturally resistant to fly strike and never require mulesing, are easy to shear, and produce high fleece weights of fine diameter wool of exceptional quality and processing performance.

    • In  2001, the 40 SRS Merino studs in Australia agreed unanimously to stop mulesing because the sheep were plain bodied and naturally resistant to fly strike. Most studs had ceased mulesing by 2004, and all by 2008.
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