New sheep genomics product planned by Australian DNA test lab

Sheep Central, July 1, 2019

Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe, right, hands over the reins to Neogen Australasia director Jason Lilly

AUSTRALIA’S now defunct Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation has passed the baton on genomic testing to Neogen Australasia, which is already planning a new product offering.

Neogen will take over the processing of DNA tests for sheep breeders following the closure of the Sheep CRC on June 30.

And the New South Wales-based genetics testing provider is working on a new genomics product offering, believed to be cheaper and more reliable than the current service.

Neogen’s sheep service will include the retailing and processing of the full range of former Sheep CRC DNA tests, including the sheep genomic test for a range of trait profiles, parentage and horn/poll, and the flock profile test for commercial Merino breeders.

Neogen Australasia director Jason Lilly said the company’s first priority was to ensure a seamless transition of services for customers.

“Today marks a new era in the delivery of genomic testing in Australia – we have big plans to take the sheep genomics in Australia to the next level, including a new product offering in the near future,” Dr Lilly said.

“In the meantime, though, the only change our customers will notice is the logo on the door – it will be business as usual for sheep breeders in terms of ordering processes and customer support services.”

Neogen Australasia’s senior director for research and development Dr Russell Lyons said the company was not yet in a position to announce the new product under development.

“For now the 15K assay as designed on behalf of Sheep CRC remains the recommended genomics assay and most appropriate for the Sheep Genetics ASBV predictions.”

Sheep breeders will continue to order tests online through, with their samples processed and analysed at Neogen’s Australian laboratories, and results incorporated into the Sheep Genetics databases for assignment of parentage and enhancement of breeding value accuracies.

Neogen has worked closely with the Sheep CRC throughout its research and development programs dating back to the start of the game-changing Information Nucleus program in 2007.

Dr Lilly said the company recognised the importance of ensuring consistency for sheep producers and retaining a presence in Armidale and the service it provides to strategic industry partners.

Neogen is continuing to employ the staff previously based at the Sheep CRC’s Armidale office at the University of New England, ensuring continuity of service provision and retention of industry knowledge.

“The continuation of these arrangements is vital to ensuring sheep breeders can accelerate the rate of genetic improvement in their flocks through the use of genomic technologies.

“Integrating Neogen’s expertise with this established operation will strengthen our genomic capabilities and our ability to deliver valuable information to the Australian industry,” he said.

Neogen is a global leader in genomic testing for livestock, with headquarters in the U.S., and laboratories in Scotland, China, Brazil, as well as Australia. It supplies genetic testing to all 27 of Australia’s major beef cattle associations, as well as dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and other species.

Testing sheep DNA at Neogen’s Australian laboratory.

Neogen’s Australian Sheep DNA Products

Neogen will offer all four DNA test products previously available to Australian sheep breeders through the Sheep CRC:

  • Sheep Genomic Test – this is the standard test used by industry to genotype Merino, Poll Dorset, White Suffolk and Border Leicesters. To use this test, you need to be a member of Sheep Genetics and the individual animals need to be entered into either the LAMBPLAN OR MERINOSELECT databases with a minimum of sire pedigree recorded and one phenotypic measurement. The Genomic Test will predict genomic breeding values for up to 16 different traits covering wool, carcase, growth, and reproductive performance.
  • Parentage Test – as the name suggests, this test can be used for linking a lamb to its dam and/or sire. The test can be used on all breeds. It can also identify polled or horned sires or dams in Merinos.
  • Poll Test – this test is only available to Merino breeders and provides an opportunity to identify polled or horned sires and dams to speed up progress towards a purely poll flock.
  • Flock Profile Test – also only available for Merinos, this test is designed for commercial breeders to obtain an estimate of their flock average genetic merit on an Australian Sheep Breeding Value (ASBV) scale. The Flock Profile test includes a free 12-month user account on to store data, compare results with industry averages, and strategically select rams which will enhance traits important to the business’s profit drivers.

More information of sheep DNA products is available at


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