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MLA implements Sheep Genetics improvements

Sheep Central, May 13, 2022

MEAT & Livestock Australia’s Sheep Genetics program has completed some key analysis enhancements to improve breeding value accuracy and evaluation efficiencies.

MLA said these enhancements include a range of technical updates to the analysis centred around two key themes:

  • More accurate decisions through improved analysis and calculation of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV’s) and updated selection indexes
  • Ensuring the long-term efficiencies of genetic evaluations

MLA has also launched the redeveloped Sheep Genetics database. The database contains valuable information on pedigree, on-farm and research data that is used to generate ASBVs from the LAMBPLAN, MERINOSELECT, KIDPLAN and DOHNE evaluations.

MLA said the 2022 enhancements contained several updates that will impact most Sheep Genetics users. As a result of these enhancements users can expect to see changes to breeding values and indexes. It will be important that ram breeders and ram buyers utilise the percentile bands available on the Sheep Genetics website to re-benchmark themselves. The enhancements this year include:

  • The replacement of the old Number of Lambs Weaned trait (NLW) with a new Weaning Rate (WR) breeding value. This new ASBV has replaced NLW in the indexes for Maternal and Merino analyses
  • Terminal indexes have been updated to include lambing ease.
  • An improved accuracy algorithm to deal with growing amounts of genomic information implemented into the evaluation
  • Retirement of the Maternal $ Index
  • Routine reporting of the database quality score (DQS) to ram breeders
  • Further updates to the Sheep Genetics website
  • Corriedales now being reported from the maternal analysis
  • Implementation of the Sheep Genetics database redevelopment

MLA’s general manager of research, development and adoption, Michael Crowley, said the analysis enhancements and revised Sheep Genetic databases are an integral part to delivering breeding values to industry.

“Following increased rates of genotyping and more flocks submitting data to Sheep Genetics than ever before, the need to update one of the industry’s key databases was important.

“There are over 1000 flocks submitting data and interacting directly with the Sheep Genetics database systems,” he said.

“There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of genotypes with the MERINOSELECT evaluation alone including 200,000 genotypes in every fortnightly evaluation.”

MLA said this year’s enhancements and in-particular the database redevelopment, have been ranked as a high priority by the Sheep Genetics advisory and technical committees, with the goal of ensuring the developments will meet the needs of the industry in the future.

“The evolution of database technology, the growing number of animals with ASBVs, and the growth of genomic information were key reasons for undertaking these analysis enhancements.

“These factors along with creating a system that is more serviceable with increased flexibility is essential in the delivery of these genetic tools to the industry,” Mr Crowley said.

“The new database and enhancements will allow us to develop new genetic products for commercial breeders, as well as provide easier access to the latest ASBVs.

“It also allows for integration with other industry and commercial data which benefits industry, and the utilisation and flexibility of data capture means that there are more datasets available for a greater variety of needs,” Mr Crowley said.

Sheep Genetics database redevelopment

MLA said streamlining and simplifying the Sheep Genetics database was an important undertaking in recent years, especially considering the significant growth in genomic data available to producers.

Three initially separate databases, MERINOSELECT, LAMBPLAN and Resource Flock were combined in a single data warehouse. This single database reduces business risk, increases serviceability allowing data sources to be easily combined.

Mr Crowley said there are also benefits for producers for inputting and accessing genetic information.

“Currently, breeders are emailed their results following inclusion of data in the analysis.

“The database redevelopment will allow breeders to access customisable reports direct from the Sheep Genetics website,” he said.

MLA said the single database will bring Sheep Genetics in line with other industry and commercial data, and the utilisation and flexibility of data capture means there are more datasets available for a greater variety of needs.

MLA said it continually strives to provide world leading genetic evaluations for Australia’s sheep and goat producers. Every year, Sheep Genetics make updates to the genetic evaluation to ensure that

For an in-depth summary of the Analysis Enchantments for 2022 – click here

Sheep Genetics will be running webinars and regional forums after the enhancements – to register, click here

For breeders wanting to start recording – click Sheep Genetics and buyers wanting to know how to use breeding values can go to MLA’s Genetics Hub

Source: MLA.

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