Ki­wis to talk Dor­per gene dis­or­der at Bendigo show

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - The Australian Sheep & Wool Show 2014 -

JON Hick­ford, di­rec­tor of New Zealand’s Lin­coln Univer­sity Gene-Marker Lab­o­ra­tory will be at the Aus­tralian Sheep & Wool Show in Bendigo this year talk­ing with sheep breed­ers about gene test­ing sheep.

One of their fo­cuses will be the pro­gram they are run­ning with the Dor­per Sheep So­ci­ety of Aus­tralia to erad­i­cate der­matosparaxis in white-faced Dor­pers.

A re­ces­sive ge­netic dis­or­der, der­matosparaxis causes skin fragility and is fa­tal.

It is found world-wide in Dor­pers, so why pick on the Aussies?

“Two rea­sons,” Pro­fes­sor Hick­ford said.

“First we have de­vel­oped a gene test that pre­cisely de­tects the faulty gene and sec­ond, a pro­por­tion of New Zealand Dor­per ge­net­ics comes from Aus­tralia.

“If we solve your prob­lem, then we solve our own.”

Pro­fes­sor Hick­ford’s ge­net­ics lab­o­ra­tory of­fers other gene tests to Aus­tralian sheep breed­ers as well.

One pop­u­lar test cur­rently is scrapie ge­netic test­ing.

“Aus­tralian and New Zealand sheep are in de­mand around the world, but to be ex­ported they need to be scrapie re­sis­tant,” he said.

“It is sort of ironic that two scrapie free coun­tries have to test for scrapie re­sis­tance, but if it helps us sell ge­net­ics then it isn’t a bad thing.”

Other Lin­coln Univer­sity staff will be trav­el­ling from nearby Christchurch on the South Is­land to the show to pro­mote ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in New Zealand.

“Lin­coln has been in agri­cul­ture for nearly 140 years,” Pro­fes­sor Hick­ford said.

“Our fees are com­pet­i­tive, we are small and prac­ti­cally fo­cused and we al­ready have Aus­tralian stu­dents study­ing.”

UN­DER CON­TROL: Work­ing dogs keep the sheep in or­der at Sheep­ven­tion, which this year fea­tures the Merino.

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