MEAT & Livestock Australia has announced new sheep industry genetics, performance and business targets under a new sole management plan to improve the sector’s productivity.
The new Sheep Genetics Business Plan will now be solely managed by MLA’s service provider Sheep Genetics, with former MERINOSELECT co-funder Australian Wool Innovation only contributing to research and development projects on an individual project basis.
Since 2005, Sheep Genetics’ LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT program operational costs had been met by user fees. LAMBPLAN research and development had been funded by MLA with MERINOSELECT R&D costs met jointly by Australian Wool Innovation. Negotiations are continuing on which projects AWI will fund in the future.
MLA said Sheep Genetics is a highly successful service provider that delivers world-class genetic evaluation services designed to grow profitability for producers and the broader industry.
The new plan’s industry performance targets include increasing average daily liveweight gain of lambs, Merino survival rates, marking rates and sheep meat eating quality, while reducing ewe mortality.
Industry genetic targets include improving genetic gain in the terminal, maternal and Merino indexes, and for traits such as post weaning weight and clean fleece weight in Merinos. Trends for breech wrinkle, worm egg count dag and fat will be maintained and the feasibility of a survival/longevity breeding value will be investigated. The implementation and adoption of an eating index for terminal breeds will be investigated.
Sheep Genetics business targets include increasing the number of new animals in the Merino, maternal and terminal analysis, while keeping ‘run’ time below two weeks, meeting extension targets, maintaining or improving client satisfaction and optimising business efficiency.
Sheep Genetics will continue to deliver LAMBPLAN, the genetics evaluation service for the prime lamb industry, and, MERINOSELECT, servicing the wool industry. It also delivers the genetic evaluation for the Dohne Merino breed and KIDPLAN, a goat industry service.
New plan to keep Sheep Genetics at livestock genetics forefront
MLA General Manager, Producer Consultation and Adoption, Mick Crowley, said the new business plan will enable Sheep Genetics to remain at the forefront of livestock genetics and expand its capabilities over the next five years.
“Genetic improvement in livestock is critical to future growth and productivity gains across the industry.
“The genetic evaluation services provided by Sheep Genetics underpin breeding decisions that drive genetic gain in seedstock flocks which then flows through to commercial flocks,” Mr Crowley said.
“Genetics is a key profit driver for livestock industries and for individual producers. Unlike many other farm inputs, genetic superiority is permanent and cumulative.
“Under the new plan, Sheep Genetics will continue to provide accurate, credible information on the breeding value of sheep as well as tools to make optimum use of this information at individual animal, flock and industry levels,” he said.
Mr Crowley said Sheep Genetics will play a key role in the data revolution occurring across the sheep and broader livestock industry.
“Technology to identify animals, measure traits of interest and facilitate exchange of data is advancing rapidly in our industry.
“There are opportunities for Sheep Genetics to collaborate with other organisations and private companies and to develop new product streams – something which is facilitated by the new Business Plan.”
The Sheep Genetics Business Plan links directly to the MLA Strategic Plan 2016-2020 and the Meat Industry Strategic Plan 2020 (MISP), with genetics and genomics investment considered a high priority.
Sheep Genetics will also be part of MLA’s contribution to the National Livestock Genetics Consortium – with the research, development and adoption investments aligning to the priorities being established by the consortium.
Click here to view the new Sheep Genetics Business Plan.