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Beyond the Bale : December 2018
EVALUATION Progeny can be evaluated at many stages in the trial. These include post lambing, early post weaning (120-210 days), post weaning (210-300 days), yearling (300-400 days), hogget (400- 540 days) and adult (>540 days). Many sites complete evaluations at two or more stages. Evaluation involves both measured traits and visual assessment. The measurement of traits is conducted by experienced site committee members and specialised service providers. Visual assessment (including classing for Tops and Culls) is completed by independent sheep classers and involves evaluating a comprehensive list of visual traits for wool quality, breech and conformation characteristics, as well as providing an overall classer’s grade. All data collection and classing is carried out in a randomised, blind manner so the data collector and classer is not aware which sire’s progeny they are assessing. RESULTS AND REPORTING AMSEA Site Reports are published for each site which provide information on traits including: • measured wool, growth and carcase traits • wool quality, breech and conformation traits • internal parasite resistance • growth and carcase traits The reports present results as Adjusted Sire Means for each sire, which adjust the raw data for effects such as being born or raised a single or a twin, as well as Flock Breeding Values (FBVs). Site Reports can be downloaded from either of the Sites or Reports pages of the Merino Superior Sires website www.merinosuperiorsires.com.au Also available from the www.merinosuperiorsires.com.au website is the Merino Superior Sires Report. Merino Superior Sires is the annual publication that reports Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) which are generated using data from Merino Sire Evaluation as well as other data that has been submitted to MERINOSELECT. Merino Superior Sires also publishes visual classing results, contact details for sire owners and breeders and the leading rams in a summarised Top 50 report for each Index. Merino Superior Sires is produced annually with the support of AWI. The latest edition, Number 24, was produced in October 2018. The cover of the latest Merino Superior Sires available on www.merinosuperiorsires.com.au HISTORICAL SIRE EVALUATION Linkage is a critical element of Merino Sire Evaluation and allows sires to be compared across years and environments. This is done by entering the same sire across a number of sites and years to allow environmental differences to be accounted for in the genetic assessment. To determine how well the system of linkage in MERINOSELECT is working and to assess productivity gains over the past 15-20 years, 16 industry leading ‘historical’ sires, first tested in the mid-1990s, were re-entered in Merino Sire Evaluation sites between 2013 and 2015 with progeny completing evaluations in 2017. The project proposed that if linkage is working, the historical sires should have similar Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) now to the breeding values they had when they were originally entered. The project also proposed that if there have been significant genetic gains, today’s new sires should be outperforming those of 15-20 years ago. AND THE RESULTS ARE IN... When analysed using the new ‘dummy identities’, the 16 historical sires’ average ASBVs were very close to the breeding values of the sires using MERINO SIRE EVALUATION PROVES ITS WORTH KEY MESSAGES FROM THE STUDY 1. Linkage across time is sufficiently high to ensure accurate estimation of genetic trends and users, or prospective users, of the technology can have confidence that the science behind the across flock and across year performance breeding values works well. 2. There is considerable genetic gain occurring in the sires entered into Merino Sire Evaluation. ON FARM 57 Figure 1: Merino Production Index; range of indexes and the average index of the 16 sires. the data from 20 years earlier. That is, the results of the sires were repeatable 20 years apart. This shows that the evaluation methods are working, as is the technology of using Link Sires between sites and years over a 20-year time period. SO WHAT ABOUT GENETIC GAIN OVER THE PERIOD? When considering genetic gain, the historical sires showed a high level of superiority compared to other sires used in the 1990s, but are now well below average compared to current sires. This is illustrated by the fact that the historical sires were on average in the top 35% for the Merino Production Index in 1995, but are now in the bottom 15% compared to sires evaluated in 2015. Old c1995 100 120 140 160 New c2015 Fleece weights are up 11% compared to 1995, micron is down by 0.7 and body weight is up 3.3kg. This shows there has been considerable advancement in the productivity of the sires being entered into Merino Sire Evaluation over the 20-year period. MORE INFORMATION www.merinosuperiorsires.com.au Old c1995 Bottom 10% Bottom 20% Bottom 30% Bottom 40% Average Top 40% Top 30% Top 20% Top 10% New c2015 Top 35% 25IndexPoints Bottom 16% Figure 2: Merino Production Index
In the Shops - March 2019