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Commercial Merino producers - opportunity for DNA pilot project

Monday 10th of October 2016

Commercial Merino producers have the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of DNA research by participating in a pilot trial of the new Flock Profiling Test from the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC).

The Sheep CRC will provide support for up to 100 Merino producers to define the genetic merit of their flocks.  The profiling test involves randomly sampling 20 young ewes for DNA testing.

By identifying genetic linkages with animals of known breeding values from the Information Nucleus database, the Flock Profiling Test will provide commercial producers with their flock's average genomic breeding values and scaled to Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) level for major Merino traits, such as yearling weight, fleece weight and fibre diameter.

“Our preliminary tests of the Commercial Flock Profile Test have been very encouraging and we are now seeking to validate its use in an extensive trial on a large number of commercial flocks,” Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said.

“Participation in the trial will provide valuable knowledge to the producers, as well as support the further development of this technology for wider industry adoption. 

“With these dual benefits, the CRC is willing to support producer involvement by providing a 50% discount on the price of the DNA profiling tests – that is, producers will be able to benchmark their ewe drop for $500 instead of $1000 (20 tests at $25 each instead of $50 per test).”

Preference will be given to Merino breeders who have RamSelect accounts with ram team records, as the flock profile results will be automatically reported into the RamSelect account and can be used in conjunction with the ram team information for future ram-buying decisions.

“It is important that both the ram-team and DNA Flock Profiling approaches give similar results and having data available from breeders using both methods will be most helpful to calibrating the results,” Prof. Rowe said.

“The results of the Flock Profiling DNA tests will assist in making more informed and accurate ram purchases that help them attain specific breeding objectives, as well as helping to determine the impact that different rams will have on future production characteristics of the flock. 

“The pilot trial will run from October 2016 to the end of March 2017 – but is capped at 100 flocks so please register your interest as soon as possible”


Media contact: Michael Thomson, 0408 819 666.

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