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ASBV search tool unlocks genetic benefits for sheep producers

24 August 2020

More than 100 sheep producers today participated in a webinar to find out how to make the most of a new Sheep Genetics database search site, launched by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

The new search site is a key feature of the refreshed Sheep Genetics website, offering a range of improved features to make Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) more accessible and allow users to customise data to suit their needs.

ASBVs are used by ram breeders and commercial producers to improve genetic selection decisions for key traits that influence on-farm productivity and profitability. They allow producers to compare the genetic potential of animals, independent of the environment and location, when buying rams.

New features designed to improve the user experience of the search site including faster loading times, more targeted search functionality and easier navigation. It has also been optimised for desktop, mobile and tablet, making it accessible on any device.

MLA Sheep Genetics Senior Development Officer, Peta Bradley, said the new search site was developed in response to feedback from throughout the industry about the performance and functionality of the previous Sheep Genetics website.

“Our previous Sheep Genetics website had been in place for 12 years and the needs of producers have evolved during that time,” Ms Bradley said.

“To achieve the National Livestock Genetics Consortium’s goal of doubling the rate of genetic gain in the Australian livestock industry by 2022 requires an increase in producer adoption of genetic tools including ASBVs.

“With more than four million animals now analysed by Sheep Genetics and ASBVs available for a growing list of traits, the old site was slow to search and downloads were becoming a problem, so it was important the new search site addressed this.

“MLA launched two projects to help improve the rate of genetic gain of the Australian sheep industry by simplifying the tools, language and descriptions offered through the Sheep Genetics database search site.

“The new site provides users with simplified, intuitive access to information and improved flexibility to customise the tool to match goals specific to individual operations so producers can reach their breeding objectives faster.”

Ms Bradley said any producers new to using ASBVs to purchase rams can easily find information and animals of interest.

“Producers can customise data to suit their viewing preference, whether this be visual or numbers-driven. Previously, data was only presented in a large table. Now, different types of displays, such as the graph view, have been made available to suit a broader audience,” Ms Bradley said.

“There has also been enhancements to how producers create sale and semen catalogues to list animals available for purchase, including the function of generating pen cards with a QR code that people can scan to bring these up directly on their phone.”

Ms Bradley said MLA has focused on making sure the changes will more successfully deliver ASBVs, not only to Sheep Genetics clients, but to broader industry as well.

“Producers who aren’t Sheep Genetics members can now create accounts, meaning they can save and export searches and find animals of interest more easily,” Ms Bradley said.

Ms Bradley said the search site will continue to be updated to ensure it delivers the best user experience to producers and the wider Australian sheep industry.

“We’ll continue to grow the website and make it as user-friendly as possible, carrying on our goal to increase the rate of genetic improvement in our national sheep flock,” Ms Bradley said.

“This is the first release of a new search site and we look forward to continuing its development.”

Watch a recording of today’s Sheep Genetics webinar or visit the Sheep Genetics website.

Access detailed FAQs about the Sheep Genetics search site.