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PW4.1 New Opportunities in Genetics and Genomics




These Practical Wisdom Notes include practical information that the Sheep CRC has developed from the scientific research carried out during 2007–2014. It is intended as a source of information to help the Sheep Industry put into practice some of these new ideas.

PRACTICAL WISDOM

  • Genomics and DNA testing: new tools for ram breeders to accelerate genetic gain  
  • Breeding towards a poll flock with the Sheep CRC Poll test Sheep CRC genomic test for Merinos—what are the benefits?
  • Sheep CRC genomic test for terminal breeds—what are the benefits?
  • Using Australian Sheep Breeding Values

CASE STUDY

  • New Opportunities for Merinos
  • New Opportunities for Terminals JIVET—Juvenile In Vitro Embryo Transfer

DownloadNew opportunities in genetics and genomics (1.1 MB)


01 Genomics and DNA testing: new tools for ram breeders to accelerate genetic gain

July 2014

DNA technology has developed rapidly over the past decades and we can now relatively cheaply generate information from the DNA of individuals. Information from a DNA test can be used to predict traits or determine parentage. Taking a DNA test from an animal is sometimes referred to as ‘genotyping’ the animal. The Sheep CRC has developed a number of DNA tests useful for sheep enterprises. These are the Parentage test, the Poll test and the Sheep Genomic test.




02 Breeding towards a poll flock with the Sheep CRC Poll test

July 2014

Observations of 2300 Merino progeny in the Sheep CRC Information Nucleus Flock has identified three possible gene combinations that determine whether a sheep is horned (H) or polled (P): HH, PH or PP. Because the horned gene is recessive, horned animals must carry the trait from both parents. By using DNA testing to identify whether an animal is PP, PH or HH, breeders can predict whether the progeny of a ram are more or less likely to have horns when mated to ewes with different genotypes.




03 Sheep CRC genomic test for Merinos —what are the benefits?

July 2014

Genetic gain in sheep breeding programs can be made by identifying and selecting the best animals. Greater genetic gain is achieved when those animals can be more accurately selected and mated at younger ages.




04 Sheep CRC genomic test for maternal breeds —what are the benefits?

July 2014

Genetic gain in sheep breeding programs can be made by identifying and selecting the best animals. Greater genetic gain is achieved when those animals can be more accurately selected and mated at younger ages.




05 Sheep CRC genomic test for terminal breeds —what are the benefits?

July 2014

Genomic testing offers terminal ram breeders substantial potential opportunity to identify and select rams that are superior for lean meat yield (LMY) and eating quality traits. To date, terminal ram breeders have successfully used current selection indexes and measurements for growth, muscle and fat depth to achieve substantial genetic gain. It is expected that clearer price signals will develop for LMY and eating quality in the medium term.




06 Using Australian Sheep Breeding Values

July 2014

ASBV stands for Australian Sheep Breeding Values. They are the national language for benchmarking sheep based on their genetic merit and are produced by Sheep Genetics. ASBVs describe a sheep’s breeding value for a trait, e.g. fleece weight or body weight, and express the relative breeding value of sheep across different breeding flocks of that breed (or across breeds in the case of Terminal breeds). They are equivalent to estimated breeding values (EBVs) used in other livestock industries e.g. BREEDPLAN in the beef cattle industry




07 Fat and eye muscle depth in Merino breeding programs

September 2015

For many years, Australian Merino breeders have based their selection primarily on wool characteristics. With the increasing value of lamb and mutton in the Australian sheep industry and increasing cost of labour and other inputs, the modern Merino ewe is now being bred for reproductive efficiency, meat attributes and lower input costs, as well as profitable wool production.




08 Benefits of Reproductive Technologies in  Closed Nucleus Sheep Breeding

April 2016

Reproductive technologies that are used in the Australian sheep industry (in order of use) are artificial insemination (AI), multiple ovulation and embryo transfer (MOET), and juvenile in vitro embryo transfer (JIVET).




09 Merinotech: Strategies to achieve a 100% PP nucleus

April 2016

Prior to development of the Poll Test, breeders had to rely on progeny testing to determine whether a polled ram carried a recessive horn gene (H). Breeders can now use the Poll Gene Test to identify true polled (PP) animals and dramatically reduce the occurrence of horned animals.