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Sheep CRC Annual Report II

Did you know the Sheep CRC developed innovative technologies to increase genetic gain in Australian flocks?

Project start date: 01 July 2014
Project end date: 24 June 2019
Publication date: 07 January 2020
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Lamb
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (2.6 MB)


The Sheep Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) was established in 2001 and operated until 2019. The Sheep CRC focused on developing research and technology and improving management systems for sheep production systems in Australia.

This project reported on the final five-year stage of the Sheep CRC (2015-2019). The key publication, Concept to Impact – The story of the Sheep CRC 2001-2019, was also released, which details its 18-year history.

In the final year of operations (2018­–19), all Sheep CRC research programs delivered their proposed goals, including: 

  • a new web-based app that helps producers better manage their flock

  • a cuts-based Meat Standards Australia model and new eating quality information, including packaging effects, grain and grass diets, lamb age and international consumer perceptions of lamb

  • improved genetic tools.


The final phase of the Sheep CRC focused on three programs of work:

Enhanced sheep wellbeing and productivity focused on the development of software and online applications to improve wellbeing and productivity.

Quality-based sheep meat value chains focused on improving carcase value based on lean meat yield and eating quality.

Faster affordable genetic gain focused on the development of new and improved breeding values and genetic tools.

Key findings

  • A web-based app, ASKBILL, integrates weather information with animals' physiological data to help producers manage the welfare of their flock, such as before and during extreme weather events.

  • A supply chain app, MOBSELECT, works with the ASKBILL program to predict the turn-off weights and carcase characteristics of lambs from a diverse range of genetic backgrounds and varying climatic conditions.

  • A new selection index for genetic improvement of eating quality has been released, which uses the genomic predictions of intramuscular fat and shear force traits that influence meat eating quality.

  • Research into the negative impact of modified atmosphere packaging showed that meat-eating quality can be improved and shelf life maintained by adjusting the gas composition in the packaging.

  • An improved genetic marker panel was developed, which is expected to increase the predictive accuracy of genetic analysis by between 10% and 20% and increase the rate of genetic gain.

  • The scope of the genomic Flock Profile test has been expanded with the addition of information related to parasite resistance and reproductive efficiency. This has increased value for producers to better manage parasite infestation and associated poor reproductive efficiency.

Benefits to industry

The Sheep CRC delivered many benefits to industry, most importantly by driving advances in genetic technologies to deliver faster and more affordable genetic gain. This supports increased productivity and profitability of commercial flocks through additional meat production and improved eating and wool qualities.

MLA action

All intellectual property (IP) generated from the Sheep CRC has been assigned under an overarching IP agreement executed by all participants. MLA is delivering research outputs through Meat Standards Australia, the objective measurement RD&A programs, and the genetics and genomic outputs are being delivered through Sheep Genetics.

Future research

Although the Sheep CRC has come to an end, each project within the program generated research that can be continued into the future. Examples of on-going research include:

  • MLA and Murdoch University have undertaken research to continue implementing the Meat Standards Australia grading system
  • the University of New England has committed to continue the commercial delivery of ASKBILL and build its user base  
  • Neogen Genomic Solutions have established a genotyping laboratory in Australia and will continue to provide the DNA testing services to industry.

Related resources

MLA publications

MLA projects

Sheep CRC I (2001-2007)

Sheep CRC II (2007-2014)

External guides

External publications

An extensive list of journal article publications that resulted from this project are listed in the final report.

More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: Sheep CRC Ltd