The newly launched genetic selection tool RamSelect.com.au is already proving a winner for both stud sheep vendors and buyers alike in identifying rams suited to individual breeding objectives. RamSelect.com.au is a web-based app that allows commercial sheep breeders to search for and list the most suitable rams available for their production system, drawing on powerful Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) data through software that is extremely intuitive and easy to use.
Principal of the New Armatree Border Leicester Stud and member of the SuperBorders group, Craig Bradley, estimates that of the 18 buyers registered at his ram sale last week, more than half were using ASBVs to assist in their selections, of which five buyers had already trialled RamSelect.com.au. Mr Bradley did not hesitate to include his stud’s catalogue on the site, even though it makes it easier for breeders to objectively and critically compare his rams against his competitors.
“Some buyers will compare rams from right across the breed and that’s fine – we want to stand up and be known as a progressive operation that adopts the opportunities new technology like this offers,” Mr Bradley said. “Other buyers come here especially to buy our rams and we see value in presenting our offering to them on the RamSelect app so they can compare rams from within our flock that will best meet their individual needs.”
The New Armatree sale featured a total clearance of the 80 rams offered at auction, topping at $2400 and averaging $1608, with a further 40 rams sold privately afterwards. While many of the bidders were repeat buyers from the local area, including Nyngan, Tottenham, Armatree and Gulargambone, Mr Bradley noted they would have been able to use the app to compare rams from within the area by using the postcode settings to focus their search.
Among those bidding was sheep breeding advisor Allan Casey, of Orange, NSW, who purchased on behalf of a client 15 rams at auction, as well as a further 15 after the sale. “At the New Armatree sale I used RamSelect.com.au to efficiently identify the rams within the flock that best met my client’s breeding objectives and that’s where the highest value is for me,” Mr Casey said. Mr Casey’s client was seeking a team of rams with high growth rates, combined with specific needs in terms of muscle and fat.
“If I was just focussing on growth rates I would just look at the ASBVs for post-weaning weights, but we needed to include other traits in our selection criteria as well and that is where this tool makes the process so much quicker and easier,” he said. “Often I have several clients at one sale all with their particular needs and RamSelect allows me to perfectly match their requirements. I found grading rams was a breeze even though I was a first time user.”
When using the tool, Mr Casey set the search to grade all the rams in the catalogue into four price limits plus a group that he considered unsuitable. Given the budget restrictions he was working within, this allowed him to purchase judiciously and fill the order even if he was losing bidder on some lots.
Having graded the catalogue before sale day, Mr Casey then visually inspected the offering prior to the auction and adjusted his grades accordingly.
“Visual evaluation of traits not covered by the catalogue is still absolutely critical,” Mr Casey said. “The RamSelect App is a winner all round - it helps the Ram Breeder efficiently get their catalogue to clients; it is a huge help to an advisor such as myself to ensure I am in tune with my client before the sale; and for a ram buyer to be sure they can quickly and accurately mark their catalogue.
“Being able to easily develop a personalised and correctly balanced breeding objective using RamSelect is such a valuable tool in itself - I would recommend that all ram buyers spend a few minutes to use this feature.”
RamSelect.com.au has been developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) in conjunction with Telstra, Australia’s leading telecommunications provider; Pivotal Labs in San Francisco, one of the leading software development companies in the world; and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
More information is available at www.sheepcrc.org.au
Meda contact: Michael Thomson on 07 4927 0805 / 0408 819 666