The Ram Selection Process: A Network Perspective
This exploratory research project used a pluralistic methodology, combining interviews and surveys to identify the selection factors and information sources utilised by farmers and processors when selecting a breed or breeder of rams. It has been suggested that the literature addressing these research problems is rare, and that by addressing these issues, a better understanding of this industrial agricultural net will result. Processors seemed to prefer product consistency and quality, whereas fit with current practices, carcass quality and farm management seemed to be more important to farmers. However, neither farmers nor processors perceived significant differences between traditional breeds. As a result, reputation of the individual breeder and their flock characteristics were used to choose a breeder. Although processors believed in the effectiveness of a range of different types of information sources, farmers seemed to focus on personal sources. However, as meat oriented farmers favoured imported meat breeds, they differ from dual-purpose farmers and represent a major threat to the Perendale breeder. Thus, breed switching needs to be encouraged in meat oriented farmers and discouraged in dual-purpose farmers. Breeders need to work on a personal level with these groups of farmers, developing a reputation for excellent quality rams. Thus, it is breeder reputation, rather than breed reputation that drives the selection of rams by farmers. Meat oriented farmers need to be convinced that the rams will fit with their current situation and that carcass performance will be superior. The positive implications for wool quality and farm management also need to be communicating to dual-purpose farmers. The breed society can add value to this relationship by educating processors regarding steps that have been taken to improve the consistency of the Perendale breed. Improving consistency is the ideal way to create positive word of mouth from a powerful advocate in another part of this industrial network.
Research Type: Project Report
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