Sen­sors for bet­ter data

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Column -

PROF­ITABIL­ITY per hectare will now be in­cluded in the Merino Life­time Pro­duc­tiv­ity project, adding the bot­tom line to data al­ready be­ing col­lected.

New wear­able sen­sors and the lat­est car­cass mea­sure­ment scan­ners will be used to mea­sure feed in­take, body com­po­si­tion and pro­duc­tiv­ity on sheep within the $13 mil­lion, four year MLP project.

These mea­sure­ments can then be used to es­tab­lish feed con­ver­sion and per hectare prof­itabil­ity.

Aus­tralian Wool In­no­va­tion Ge­net­ics and An­i­mal Wel­fare Ad­vo­cacy pro­gram man­ager Ge­off Lin­don said the new feed in­take and body com­po­si­tion as­sess­ment tools, along with the ex­is­tence of the MLP F1 ewes and wethers, had cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity to make sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to the eco­nomic eval­u­a­tion of ge­netic bench mark­ing.

The 2016 and 2017 drop first-cross wethers from 29 ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion sires at the Pin­gelly MLP site in West­ern Aus­tralia will be as­sessed both un­der both an­i­mal house and nor­mal graz­ing con­di­tions, and the ob­ser­va­tions will ex­tend to the ewes in the project if suc­cess­ful.

Mr Lin­den, speak­ing at the Meri­noLink MLP field day at Temora, in south­ern NSW, last week, said the MLP project would also ex­pand the col­lec­tion of adult data, which was cru­cial.

“In­dus­try has a higher per­cent­age of breed­ing ewes and are not car­ry­ing the wethers we once did,’’ he said.

“The Merino is chang­ing — body weight is in­creas­ing and there is a fo­cus on wool and lamb, wel­fare traits and re­silience, com­bined with a move from dol­lars per head to dol­lars per hectare.

“The ad­vice from ge­neti­cists is one set of adult data is re­quired, but in­dus­try isn’t nec­es­sar­ily col­lect­ing adult data. It’s col­lect­ing a large amount of year­ling data and a lit­tle hogget data.’’

Mr Lin­don said the MLP would look at the im­pact of high growth or low wrin­kle on wool cut and qual­ity, if ewes with more fat and mus­cle have more lambs and lower lamb mor­tal­ity; if the cur­rent in­dexes are well cor­re­lated to life­time pro­duc­tiv­ity, does pro­duc­tiv­ity changes as they age, and what is the best mix of vis­ual and ob­jec­tive se­lec­tion.

SHEEP STUDY: Wear­able sen­sors will be used to col­late bot­tom-line data.

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