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Beyond the Bale : March 2019
ON FARM 49 The AWI-hosted workshop was in response to several matters affecting the industry. Of immediate concern is the sudden shortage in Australia of PMSG, on which the industry relies for oestrus synchronization for AI and embryo transfer programs. The meeting concluded that there is a reasonable chance that PMSG will be available for the next breeding season (ie late 2019) but it is still unclear as to who will be the new importer. With increasing animal welfare concerns regarding how the PMSG is collected and used in other species, it is prudent for the sheep industry in the long term to look at PMSG-free AI and ET protocols. Laparoscopic AI using frozen semen has for many years produced highly variable results. The good results have been good, but the low results have led producers to walk away from the technology. Not only are falling conception rates restricting the adoption of artificial breeding and the growth of the artificial breeding industry, they are restricting the rates of Merino genetic gain. AWI-funded research being run through SARDI aims to address several of these issues by developing new treatment protocols that are able to consistently produce improved levels of synchrony of oestrus. The workshop heard from the researchers who said that preliminary observations suggest there may indeed be ways to improve the synchrony protocols. The workshop also heard that the results from an AWI-funded project undertaken by The University of Sydney have determined that ‘sexed semen’ technology is effective enough to enable woolgrowers to choose whether they want male or female lambs via AI. Work on an appropriate diluent for frozen sexed sperm in a commercial environment is in the final stages of trialling. It is expected that it will be commercially available mid 2019. Another AWI-funded project being undertaken by the University of Sydney is seeking to improve the function of frozen ram semen so that it can be effectively used in low cost, non-surgical, ‘cervical’ AI programs. The workshop also heard about two new projects proposed by the University of Sydney: one to examine advanced in vitro tests that might provide an industry standard for semen quality, and the second to utilise new ear tag sensing technologies that provides the possibility of detecting oestrus, ovulation and joining remotely. NSW DPI Livestock Research Officer Dr Gordon Refshauge also reported to the workshop on Australian research showing the negative impact of heat stress on embryo survival. MORE INFORMATION The report on the workshop is available on the AWI website at www.wool.com/artificialbreeding. AWI convened an Artificial Breeding Workshop in December – attended by more than 30 invited researchers, woolgrowers, AI practitioners and commercial providers – to discuss the current PMSG shortage and help guide AWI’s artificial breeding R&D strategy. AWI ARTIFICIAL BREEDING WORKSHOP
In the Shops - March 2019