Petali Poll Merinos & White Suffolk sheep studs at Walcha are using the latest genomic technology for faster and more accurate selection.
Stud Principal Martin Oppenheimer says early selection using genomics means faster genetic gains are possible.
“We are currently tissue-sampling our top 200 ram weaners to have full genomic Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV) available at six months of age”, Mr Oppenheimer said.
“This means we can mate more young sires and retain less mature sires. Clients have access to the new Genomic data on all auction sale Petali rams. It is a win-win situation as we are using better sires earlier and able to sell better one year old sires to clients. Accuracy of the data has improved plus we now have ASBV’s on hand to measure traits such as meat eating quality.”
The fast rate of genetic change now being achieved at Petali means rams can sometimes be “out of date” at three years of age.
“We are using more ram lambs as sires and turning them over quickly”, Mr Oppenheimer said.
“We are making big changes in important traits that increase profits and reduce cost of production. In the poll merinos, traits such as early growth, high fleece weight, more fat and muscle, less breech wrinkle, are important.
“In the white suffolks the important traits are low birth weight, early growth, moderate fat, more muscle.
“Worm resistance, number of lambs weaned and meat eating quality are needed for both breeds.
“Returns are currently very good in our sheep enterprises, yet we still need to push productivity, product quality and reduce cost of production.”
Country Leader, 15.1.18
James Wagstaff, The Weekly Times, 12.7.17