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RamSelect keeps track of flock performance at Parkes

Monday 30th of October 2017
Kerri, Craig, Grant, Miki and Chris Dunn, at the “Oak Hills” sheep yards
Kerri, Craig, Grant, Miki and Chris Dunn, at the “Oak Hills” sheep yards

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.

They run a 4300-ewe Merino flock of which 2600 are joined to Merino rams for fine wool production (17.5 micron ewe average) and 1200 to Terminal sires for the first-cross lamb market, with the remainder sold as cull ewes each year.

As well as making use of the free ram search functionality, the Dunns recently purchased a $25 RamSelect Account which allows them to store their breeding objective search settings, upload and store details of their ram purchases, benchmark their ram team against industry averages, and track their genetic progress over time.

“We use RamSelect to rank sale catalogues based on our breeding objectives, and this gives a short list to use before the visual inspection,” Kerri Dunn said.

“We’re also using it as a stocktake tool to keep a record of what we’ve paid for rams and how they stack up compared to industry averages, not for every trait but just for the key areas that are important for our business.

“We’ve saved our breeding objective into our ram team manager so that we know that we’re searching for exactly the right genetics for our business, and in future we may use the system to store ram team profiles as well and to track our genetic progress.”

RamSelect is an easy-to-use web-based app, www.ramselect.com.au, which allows ram buyers to find and rank rams based on Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) that match their own breeding objective.

First released in 2015 by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), RamSelect has proven to be an extremely valuable tool for both ram sellers and sheep breeders, with around 17,600 rams from 224 catalogues listed during the 2016 season – approximately 10% of the national ram market.

This season the Sheep CRC moved to a cost-recovery model to ensure RamSelect’s continued delivery and ongoing improvements, with modest charges now in place for ram breeders listing their rams and for commercial producers to set up an account to manage and analyse their genetic progress.

The data management features through their RamSelect account has been appealing to the Dunns, who have been collecting flock information using electronic identification systems for some time.

“We’ve collected a lot of data on our flock but now we’d like to start using that information and tie that back to our breeding objective,” Mrs Dunn said.

As participants in the Parkes Ewe Competition they are currently undertaking DNA Flock Profile testing to obtain a genetic benchmark of their ewe base, the results of which will also be stored in their RamSelect account. This additional information will enable the Dunns to adjust their ram search settings to better align with their flock’s current genetic make-up.

“In theory the DNA tests should align with the ASBVs of the rams we have been selecting but it might also show areas that we can improve in or put greater emphasis on when we select rams in future,” Mrs Dunn said.

The Dunns have been assessing rams using ASBV data for several years, but said RamSelect made that process much quicker and easier.

Craig Dunn said it had been particularly helpful in selecting new genetics as their breeding objective evolved in recent years from focussing on wool and growth to fertility in the Merino flock, and in balancing birth weight, growth and fat coverage in the Terminal rams selected.

“We’re finding it a very handy tool and we’re learning a lot of new information by using it, such as the links between fat and eating quality which is becoming more important for our Terminal selections, and on the Merino side it’s been really helpful in selecting for growth and fertility,” Mr Dunn said.

 

Media contact: Michael Thomson, 0408 819 666.


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