NEW videos and producer profiles explaining sheep and beef sire selection traits and the use of genetic tools have been released by Meat & Livestock Australia.
MLA has launched the new resources to help commercial beef and sheep producers target specific traits identified in their breeding objectives when buying bulls and rams.
A suite of new videos explaining some of the most popular traits for cattle and sheep are now live on MLA’s online genetics hub here.
The videos add to the genetics hub’s one-stop-shop of tools and resources, aimed at demystifying genetics and breeding values. They include profiles of sheep producers who have used breeding values to become more efficient and profitable.
Genetic selection is a key tool for wool and lamb producers
Genetics has played a significant role in helping Victorian sheep and wool producers Russell and Ricky Luhrs increase lambing percentages, lamb growth and carcase and fleece weights.
“By selecting rams based on Australian sheep breeding values (ASBVs), we’ve worked on getting more fat and muscle into our ewes so they have more of a fuel tank on their back for tough times which has, in turn, helped lamb survival,” Ricky said.
Today, their operation is focused on improving their rate of genetic gain, particularly in traits for early growth (YWT* and PWT*), fat and muscle (PFAT* and PEMD*), fleece weight (YCFW*) and plain bodies (YSL* working with YCFW* – to prevent mulesing and working towards six-monthly shearing).
Victorian prime lamb producers Philip and Maz Gough have transformed their business using genetic selection tools and harnessing the benefits of hybrid vigour.
In the past 10 years, their lambing percentage per ewes joined climbed from 127pc to 154pc and the goal was an average of 150pc. The amount of lamb produced per hectare has risen from 363kg to 440kg. Since he started selecting on Australian Sheep Breeding Values for high early growth rates, coupled with better flock management, lamb weaning weights have increased.
New videos drive production and consumer outcomes
MLA general manager, research, development and adoption, Michael Crowley, said as producers are often only making buying decisions once a year, the new materials act as a refresher and detail the traits that can be used to target their breeding objectives and select sires to achieve those objectives.
“Producers have told us that they want more information about the various traits available when making decisions about sires, and MLA has responded by developing a suite of information-rich videos to support decision making to drive on-farm production and consumer outcomes.
“For sheep producers, the videos cover traits including animal health and welfare, reproduction, carcase, growth and wool,” he said.
“For beef producers, traits covered include fertility and calving ease, carcase traits and growth rates.
“MLA launched the genetics hub in 2019 as part of a broader approach to informing producers about the role of genetics in achieving business productivity targets and meeting consumer expectations,” Mr Crowley said.
“Research shows that more than 80pc of commercial cattle and sheep producers have taken action – such as using breeding values to buy a sire – as a result of the launch of these resources.
“There’s a clear link between genetics and the commercial profitability of the Australian livestock industry,” he said.
“Genetic improvement is among the tools available to commercial producers to help address the key drivers of industry profit including improved market compliance and eating quality, and improved fertility and livestock productivity.”
To view the new trait videos, visit MLA’s genetics hub here.