Sheep breed­ing val­ues hold key to the fu­ture

Countryman - - LIVESTOCK - Bob Gar­nant

Pro­duc­ers were en­light­ened on the use of Aus­tralian sheep breed­ing val­ues at last week’s Dow­erin Ma­chin­ery field days.

Univer­sity of New Eng­land re­searcher Tom Gran­leese was on hand at the Bayer Avenge Ram Shed to an­swer any ques­tions from visitors about the sub­ject.

Dr Gran­leese has re­searched case stud­ies where the most ef­fi­cient and cost-ef­fec­tive breed­ing pro­grams can be de­signed.

“I use many as­pects of breed­ing pro­grams which in­clude pedi­gree, phe­no­typ­ing, geno­typ­ing, re­pro­duc­tive tech­nolo­gies and their re­spec­tive costs,” he said.

“There are nu­mer­ous in­di­vid­ual case stud­ies which I can use to help breed­ers achieve im­proved ac­cu­ra­cies by go­ing through a sim­ple-step process.”

Dr Gran­leese showed pro­duc­ers how to use the Merino Se­lect Sheep Ge­net­ics web­site to find the sheep breed­ing val­ues of a par­tic­u­lar breeder.

“The next step in ge­nomics is fully se­quenc­ing sheep, all 23 mil­lion genes,” he said. “In key in­dus­try sires, this will in­crease ge­nomic pre­dic­tion ac­cu­ra­cies at faster rates of ge­netic gain.”

Ejand­ing Merino and Poll Merino stud prin­ci­pal Brett Jones, who dis­played rams at the ram shed, said he was se­lect­ing for eat­ing qual­ity traits in a bal­anced over­all ASBV ap­proach to ge­netic gain, with his en­tire 180-ram sale cat­a­logue listed on the Sheep Ge­net­ics web­site.

The main three top eat­ingqual­ity traits for the stud show were a ram with the high­est IMF fig­ure of +0.89, while lean meat yield topped out at +1.75 for an­other ram and a third ram had the best shear force rat­ing of -2.8, the higher neg­a­tive num­ber for SF rep­re­sent­ing the bet­ter eat­ing qual­ity.

“Us­ing ASBVs is all about bench­mark­ing sires and us­ing the in­for­ma­tion to im­prove breed­ing pro­grams,” Mr Jones said.

Picture: Bob Gar­nant

Re­searcher Tom Gran­leese was in Dow­erin to as­sist pro­duc­ers with Aus­tralian Sheep Breed­ing Val­ues.

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