What's ahead for sheep?

14 May 2015

Genetic strategies to improve eating quality and technology which objectively measures carcase traits are on the horizon for Australian sheep producers and processors.

Richard Apps, who heads up MLA’s Genetics Implementation and Sheep R&D Program, said the industry is developing innovations to tackle some of the biggest challenges to the value chain, such as:

Genetics

Producers can already use ASBVs for carcase quality traits such as intramuscular fat and sheer force. The Sheep CRC is refining these so producers have better tools to select genetics to improve eating quality of prime lambs.

Carcase traits

The MLA Donor Company and commercial and research partners are developing  measurement technologies – such as x-rays and probes – which aim to objectively measure carcase quality and quantity. These could link into automated carcase cutting systems already used in the processing industry.

Wellbeing

Sheep CRC researchers are developing models which include animal trait measurements (weight change, body condition, wrinkle score) to pre-empt events such as flystrike and predict the risk of an animal’s wellbeing being compromised. In time, producers could install 3D cameras in shearing sheds or yards to provide a whole-flock body condition score to identify and manage risks such as lamb survival or ewe mortality.

These R&D innovations, and many more, will be showcased at the Sheep Innovation Day on 29 May.

Sheep Innovation Day

When: 10am-3.30pm, 29 May

Where: UNE Smart House Innovation Centre and Shearing Shed, Kirby Farm, Weir’s Road, Armidale

Details: no charge, morning tea and lunch provided.

10am-12.45pm – presentations by:

  • James Rowe: Overview of the Sheep CRC
  • Geoff Hinch: Wellbeing and productivity
  • Richard Apps: Sheep meat value chains
  • Sam Clark: Genetics and genomics
  • Hamish Chandler: The Resource Flock and Followers
  • Lu Hogan: Using eID in sheep enterprises

1.30-3.30pm – displays and demonstrations:

  • Inspect new shearing shed and sheep eID systems
  • Displays by Allflex, Gallagher, Practical Systems, Sapien, Tru Test and Eco Enterac

RSVP: Thursday 21 May, Janelle Holzberger, Sheep CRC: (02) 6773 2927, jholzber@une.edu.au

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