Genetics and profitability link studied
A new trial to improve the estimation of profitability per hectare has been added to the Merino Lifetime Productivity project.
According to Australian Wool Innovation, the four-year project will assess the viability of practical feed efficiency assessments using new ways of measuring and comparing feed intake, body composition and productivity.
“These will inform new and improved methodologies of profitability per hectare across all sire groups within the MLP project,” an AWI spokesman said.
“They could also improve the existing methodologies — wether and ewe trials, Grassgro, MIDAS and Sheep Object modelling.
“The 2016 and 2017 drop F1 wethers from 29 divergent AI sires at the Pingelly MLP site in WA will firstly be assessed in an animal house to validate predictions of feed intake, body reserves and productivity under differing levels of nutrition and then under normal grazing conditions. If successful, the assessments will then move to the F1 ewes in the Merino Lifetime Productivity trial.”
The AWI spokesman said the technology that made this possible were new “wearable sensors” and other methods to measure feed intake under grazing conditions and the new DEXA carcass scanning machine.
“Currently, the extrapolation of per head productivity to per hectare is based on animal liveweight and the typical increase in energy requirement of heavier animals,” he said.
“Using the results of the AWI funded project Selecting Sheep for a Resource Limiting Environment, this project will trial new methods to assess profit per hectare.”
Merino progeny from 2016 and 2017 will be involved in the new MLP trial to research the correlation between genetics and profit per hectare.