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Beyond the Bale : December 2017
MERINO LIFETIME PRODUCTIVITY PROJECT UPDATE The focus of the Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) project is to gather a lifetime dataset on the F1 daughters of 135 unique and genetically diverse Merino sires across a range of environments. Each year these F1 ewes will be wool sampled, visually scored, fleece weighed, live weighed, carcase scanned, faecal sampled, classed by two independent classers and finally, once mature, will be joined to Merino sires and repeat measured until they are over five years old. This data will be used to better understand how our current selection systems relate to lifetime production, and to fill data gaps so that we can learn more about the lifetime relationships between wool, carcase, disease resistance and fertility. The MLP project is entering into a new era as the first of the next generation (F2) progeny are tagged and further natural joinings are planned. Meanwhile at some sites, the assessment and generation of the F1 ewes that will be tracked for life remains the focus. The project has also seen some FAST FACTS • The AWI-funded Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) project is a $7 million (plus $4 million from partners), 10-year partnership between AWI, the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA), nominating stud Merino breeders and site hosts. • The project aims to increase the understanding of the genetics and economic interactions over the lifetime of a diverse range of Merino types delivering high quality wool, lambs and meat. • The MLP project runs at five sites where sire evaluation trials operate for the first two years and then continue tracking performance of ewe progeny as they proceed through four to five joinings and annual shearings. • A full suite of independent visual classing and productivity traits will be included in the assesment. changes in the leadership team and in this update we meet the newest member of the MLP Executive. For those keen to inspect the project’s ewes first hand, and to catch up with the latest in project news, this update features the dates for the 2018 site field days. WOOLGROWER OVERSIGHT In view of the growth in the project and the complexities of hosting five sites in diverse environments, woolgrowers play a critical role in project oversight, from involvement and leadership on Site Committees, to representation on the MLP Executive Committee, and finally through the MLP Industry Steering Committee (ISC). One such woolgrower has been Tom Silcock who until recently was involved in many stages of project oversight as the Balmoral Site Manager and Chairman, AMSEA Chairman (who sits on the MLP Executive Committee), and finally with a seat on the MLP ISC. After completing a 6-year term as AMSEA Chairman, Tom has recently stepped down from the role and has vacated the Balmoral Chairman’s position. Tom’s sage advice and passion for the Merino industry has contributed to a solid project foundation. Tom is not lost to the project as he will remain as the Balmoral site manager. In light of Tom’s resignation, the MLP has welcomed third generation woolgrower and stud breeder Jock McLaren of Nerstane Merino Stud as the new AMSEA Chairman and member of the MLP Executive Committee. Jock also sits on the MLP ISC and is a long-term member of the New England Sire Evaluation Association Site Committee. In his acceptance speech, Jock noted that “Tom has left big shoes to fill”, although with his passion for sire evaluation and the Merino industry, we welcome Jock’s guidance and insight during his time as AMSEA Chairman. Jock McLaren, who was recently appointed as AMSEA Chairman. 34 ON FARM