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How to choose a sire when you can’t attend a sale

03 September 2020

The impacts of COVID‑19 mean many producers may not be able to attend bull and ram sales this buying season – especially if they need to travel interstate.

However, this doesn’t mean the quality of sire selections needs to be impacted.

Bulls and rams are a mobile delivery system for genes and accessing breeding values will provide information on the genetic merit of different sires on offer.

What can’t be seen in an animal is just as important as what can be, and with breeding values available pre‑sale, producers can do most of the research before a sale to identify the sires which are right for their business.

Here are some tips to invest wisely in new genetics, even if you can’t head to a sale:

  1. Use breeding values (Estimated Breeding Values for cattle and Australian Sheep Breeding Values for sheep) to filter the sale catalogue and shortlist sires which meet your breeding objectives.
  2. Request photos, videos and additional information from breeders well before sale day to check physical elements of each sire on your shortlist, such as their structure and temperament.
  3. Use this additional information to equip your agent (or whoever will be representing you at the sale) with your prioritised list of sires, taking into account the number of sires required and budget.

Quick guides to get started with genetics

To help producers get started with genetics, MLA’s genetics hub, has free short videos on understanding breeding values, breeding objectives and indexes, which lead to choosing a sire for more productive and profitable results.

The videos are tailored for different enterprises – tropical bulls, temperate bulls, prime lamb rams and Merino rams. Topics for each include:

  • Getting started with breeding values.
  • Using breeding values to select for traits.
  • Using breeding values to find bulls or rams on genetic service websites including BREEDPLAN, LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT.
  • Putting breeding values into practice when shopping for a high‑performing sire.

Tune in to select traits

MLA has launched a range of resources to help commercial beef and sheep producers target specific traits identified in their breeding objectives when buying bulls and rams.

New videos explaining some of the most popular traits for cattle and sheep are now live on MLA’s online genetics hub,

The videos add to the genetics hub’s one‑stop‑shop of tools and resources, aimed at demystifying genetics and breeding values.

The videos detail the traits producers can use to target their breeding objectives and select sires to achieve those objectives.

Sheep producers: the videos cover traits including animal health and welfare, reproduction, carcase, growth and wool.

Beef producers: traits covered include fertility and calving ease, carcase traits and growth rates.