Kiwis to talk Dorper gene disorder at Bendigo show
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.