Ewe Selection for Commercial Producers

While ram selection alone can yield significant improvement, selection of ewes will also accelerate progress.

The key step you should take before selecting ewes for breeding is to set your breeding objective. This provides the standard against which you will assess your ewes.

When selecting for a trait or characteristic, the most effective way is to directly measure or assess that characteristic. For example, you can estimate fibre diameter based on crimp frequency and handle, however, this is not very accurate compared to directly measuring a mid-side or pin-bone sample of fleece.

However, you must also weigh up the cost of individual testing of traits compared to visual estimates with the improvement in selection accuracy you will achieve.

Generally, it is cost-effective to measure the fibre diameter, fleece weight and liveweight of hoggets in wool flocks.

For prime lamb breeders (both Merino and other breeds), weigh potential ewe replacements as an aid to selection.

RFID tags will make this process much easier and accurate.

Note that a key element for selection is having plenty of ewes from which to select. This means that your flock needs to be achieving high reproductive success shown by high lambmarking and weaning rates.

For visual traits a subjective score should be used (e.g. wrinkle score as an indicator of flystrike susceptibility). A booklet on Visual Sheep Scores is available for download here.


DownloadDownload Visual Sheep Score Guide (8 MB)

Practical Wisdom Notes / Fact Sheets

PW4.1 New Opportunities in Genetics and Genomics

In this series:

  1. Genomics and DNA testing: new tools for ram breeders to accelerate genetic gain
  2. Breeding towards a poll flock with the Sheep CRC Poll test

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

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

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

  6. Using Australian Sheep Breeding Values

  7. Fat and eye muscle depth in Merino breeding programs

  8. Benefits of Reproductive Technologies in  Closed Nucleus Sheep Breeding

  9. Merinotech: Strategies to achieve a 100% PP nucleus

  10.  Using selection decisions to improve ASBVs

  11. Genomic testing ram lambs helps increase rates of index genetic gain by 50% at Centre Plus


Products & Training Resources

ASBV Pocket Guide

ASBVs - A guide for ram buyers

Marketing your sheep with genetic data

Sheep DNA Testing Information

Reports, Articles and Presentations

Getting Started with Sheep Genetics

Sheep CRC Genomics Breakfast Workshop - LambEx 2012

News Releases

DNA Flock Profile cements the foundations for new flock
Developing a flock with the right mix of genetics can take generations to perfect, but DNA testing has put Geelong sheep and wool producer Jack Briscoe on the fast track to success. Mr Briscoe is only a year into breeding his own Merino flock after branching out from his sheep contracting business by cobbling together a mixture of 800 home-bred and yard-bought ewes as his breeding base. Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/dna-flock-profile-cements-the-foundations-for-new-flock-28-11-2017.php
RamSelect keeps track of flock performance at Parkes
The RamSelect app is not only assisting with better genetic decisions for the Dunn family of Parkes, NSW, but also assisting with their inventory management and industry benchmarking activities. The Dunn family, trading as Reedy Creek Partners, operates a mixed farming enterprise between Manildra and Parkes, and has been using the app since it was first launched in 2015 to assist with their ram selections. Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/ramselect-keeps-track-of-flock-performance-at-parkes-30-10-2017.php
Faster sheep DNA testing with new Australian GeneSeek lab
Sheep breeders using DNA testing to improve their genetic selections can look forward to faster turnaround times for test results thanks to Neogen Corporation’s decision to establish a genomic testing laboratory within Australia. GeneSeek Australasia, a wholly owned subsidiary of United States-based parent company Neogen, has acquired the assets of the Animal Genetics Laboratory (AGL), based at the Gatton campus of the... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/faster-sheep-dna-testing-with-new-australian-geneseek-lab-04-09-2017.php
Dramatic increase in early season searches on RamSelect
Inquiry for rams through RamSelect has never been stronger with a dramatic increase in the number of buyers searching the site so far this season compared to last year. More than 1129 ram searches were conducted on RamSelect during July, compared to just 154 at the same time last year. Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/dramatic-increase-in-early-season-searches-on-ramselect-22-08-2017.php
DNA testing to drive new era of ewe competitions
The traditional ewe competition is set to enter the innovation era with the inclusion of DNA Flock Profile tests as part of next year’s Doug Bicket Memorial Ewe trial in Parkes, NSW. The Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) will provide DNA profiling for all flocks entering the 2018 competition, currently valued at $800 plus GST per flock, as a means of supporting improved genetic selection... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/dna-testing-to-drive-new-era-of-ewe-competitions-18-07-2017.php
The predictive power of ASKBILL immortalised in song
An off-the-cuff comment and a spur of the moment decision to “have a go” have resulted in the sheep industry’s new predictive app, ASKBILL, being brought to life in song by Uralla musician Rhonda Brooks. Performed in a bush ballad style by Coffs Harbour musician Mal Winckle, the track is proving a popular addition to the ASKBILL website, helping to capture producers’ imagination as to the possibilities on offer... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/the-predictive-power-of-askbill-immortalised-in-song-10-07-2017.php
RamSelect moves towards commercial business model
The popular RamSelect app will move to a commercial funding model ahead of this season’s ram sales, as a first step towards ensuring the genetic selection tool’s financial viability and availability to producers in the long-term. RamSelect Plus is an easy to use web-based application, www.ramselect.com.au, which allows ram buyers to find and rank rams based on Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) that match their own... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/ramselect-moves-towards-commercial-business-model-03-07-2017.php
Faster, more accurate DNA Parentage and Poll test to be released in July
Sheep breeders will have access to a faster, more accurate DNA test for parentage and poll/horn status from July, which also includes new features to detect a range of genetic defects. First launched in 2012 by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), the DNA Parentage and Poll test has proven very popular with sheep breeders seeking to improve their genetic selections through more precise... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/faster-more-accurate-dna-parentage-and-poll-test-to-be-released-in-july-26-06-2017.php
‘Eye opening’ DNA Flock Profile delivers new breeding insights at Beechworth
DNA testing to obtain a genetic flock profile has changed the way Victorian Merino breeder Stuart Warner not only looks at his flock, but how he will approach his genetic selection decisions in the future. As a registered deliverer of Bred Well Fed Well and RamSelect workshops, Mr Warner has a close understanding of the power of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) as an objective genetic selection tool. Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/eye-opening-dna-flock-profile-delivers-new-breeding-insights-at-beechworth-05-06-2017.php
The power of prediction now in sheep producers’ hands – just ASKBILL
A new app launched today will give sheep producers the power to see their stock’s future, all from the palm of their hand. The app, available at www.askbill.com.au, was made live to the public today, marking the start of a limited offering of the ASKBILL platform as part of a pre-release user feedback program – a vital step in putting the finishing touches to the product prior to ASKBILL’s full commercial release later... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/the-power-of-prediction-now-in-sheep-producers-hands-just-askbill-22-05-2017.php
Click Here To Read More News Articles »

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