Getting the latest on genetics

09 July 2015

The recent Sheep Genetics Regional Forum, held at Wellington in central NSW, reinforced the rising interest from producers in learning from genetic data.

According to Hamish Chandler, Manager of Sheep Genetics, the well-attended forum was a reflection of the interest in Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs), as well as the significant increase in membership to MERINOSELECT .

In the past five years, there have been 74 new businesses join with 231 enterprises now recording and submitting data to MERINOSELECT.  More than 70% of terminal sires now sold have ASBVs recorded.

"Largely the group indicated their interest to hear what was new in Sheep Genetics to keep their business up to date and how to best communicate breeding values to their customers," Hamish said.

Will Chaffey and Caris Jones, newly appointed LAMBPLAN  and MERINOSELECT officers, provided a refresher on collecting and submitting useful data to the Sheep Genetics programs.  They also took attendees through enhancements to the programs, which included the new mating module to increase accuracies for reproduction data as well as introduction to Matesel  which provides the potential to increase rate of genetic gain whilst minimising inbreeding.

Attendees were shown how to interpret feedback reports, the exciting opportunities for genomic testing where a single DNA sample may have the potential to predict breeding values and an app being developed in partnership with the Sheep CRC to make the sheep genetics programs more mobile and adaptable.

Producer learnings

Victoria Patterson of the Kinellar Stud, Eugowra, NSW, attended to keep up to date with the latest in LAMBPLAN. The Pattersons breed White Suffolk and Poll Dorset, selling approximately 200 rams a year and are strong supporters of LAMBPLAN, making it a core component of their breeding program.

“LAMBPLAN increases our productivity by allowing us to identify elite, high producing sheep within our studs to speed up the genetic gain for both our White Suffolk and Poll Dorset breeding programs”, Victoria said.

“The most valuable learning from the forum was how to use management groups for the different feed and environmental effects on our lambs and how to link the management groups with different sites to improve our accuracy percentage for reliability of data. We also have a strong interest in the genomic testing technology becoming available to look at meat quality traits.”

Victoria encouraged other producers to attend future forums.

“Producers attending these sessions benefit from increased knowledge and understanding of how LAMBPLAN should be utilised most effectively and they can ask questions directly to the Sheep Genetics team," she said.

More information is available on the Sheep Genetics website 

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