Sheep genetics and productivity the focus at forums

19 June 2015

Ram breeders across southern Australia can gain access to key information on genetic tools to boost production and profitability at a national series of Sheep Genetics Regional Forums over the next two weeks.

The forums, delivered by Sheep Genetics - a joint project between Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) - will focus on providing answers to important questions to help ram breeders better understand how genetics may be applied to their operation, including:

  • How is an Australian Sheep Breeding Value (ASBV) calculated?
  • What is an index, and how do indexes work?
  • How do you use the Sheep Genetics website including uploading the dashboard and uploading your sale and semen catalogues and printing pen cards?
  • Why is data quality important?
  • How do you get the management grouping right?

MLA General Manager, Livestock Productivity Dr Jane Weatherley said the forums were a chance to speak firsthand with the Sheep Genetics team and to develop a clearer concept of the value of implementing genetics in the selection process.

“There are a range of tools available through Sheep Genetics which can be incorporated into sheep and wool enterprises to assist in informed decision making with a view to increasing production efficiencies and profit,” Dr Weatherley said.

“These include LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT programs which form a database of performance records from more than 6.5 million animals across the country.

“However, understanding how to implement and maximise the benefits of these programs can seem daunting and these forums provide an opportunity to develop this knowledge so that accelerating genetic gain can become a part of the day-to-day management regime of more sheep and wool operations.”

Investment in genetics has long been touted as a cost effective and sustainable way to achieve productivity gains across the livestock industries.  MLA research has shown improved productivity through genetics over the past 10 years of R&D investment has created $2.88b in benefits to sheepmeat producers alone.

Dr Weatherley said investment in such research was critical to achieving necessary productivity gains and boosting the profitability of the sector in the long-term.

“Australia is already one of the best producers of sheepmeat and wool in the world,” she said.

“However, there are even more gains to be made through genetics and we look forward to sharing information on how with producers across Australia at our forum events.”

The Sheep Genetics forums include:

  • 23 June – Ararat, Victoria
  • 25 June – Cleve, SA
  • 7 July – York, WA

Forums cost $33 per business unit.  If you are interested in attending please send an email to info@sheepgenetics.org.au

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