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Beyond the Bale : Aug 07 - Sep 07 Supplement
BREEDING FOR PROFIT SUPPLEMENT BEYOND THE BALE 15 By Kellie Penfold Photos Sheep CRC Asheep industry world-first -- the Information Nucleus -- is a key program of the newly established Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC). Via the Information Nucleus, the Sheep CRC will provide next-generation information on the genetics and new traits for industry while supporting three core research programs. Deborah Maxwell, extension and communication project leader with the Sheep CRC, explains that the CRC, which is funded until 2014, has three research programs focusing on transforming sheep and their management, next-generation wool quality and next-generation meat quality. The Information Nucleus involves 5000 ewes in flocks run at eight research sites covering a wide range of sheep environments in Australia. These will produce progeny by 100 Merino, maternal and terminal sires annually for five years chosen from across the industry. The progeny will be extensively measured and assessed for current and new traits in meat and wool quality, parasite resistance and reproduction. Ms Maxwell says it complements work already being done by SheepGenomics and Sheep Genetics Australia (SGA) by focusing on traits that are either difficult or expensive to measure commercially on-farm and assisting in the validation phase of the research. "These traits may be related to wool and meat quality, internal parasite resistance and reproductive performance, with the work providing genetic parameters for traits such as staple strength, wool quality, lamb sur vival, meat eating quality, nutritional content and carcase yield," she says. "Our aim is to improve the accuracy of the Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) for current traits, contribute to the development of ASBVs for new traits, validate molecular markers for current and new traits and develop breeding values that combine quantitative and molecular information." The Information Nucleus will also assess genetic variation and opportunities for improvement of new and novel traits such as wool UV colour stability, meat traits relating to human nutrition and characteristics that result in easier care and management of sheep. "Much of the work will focus on testing and validating DNA markers within the genome in sheep of different genetic backgrounds, sex and age. We are looking for variations at the DNA level that will help to identify the sheep that possess genes for high fleece-weight production or superior muscling, or one of the many economically important traits." Dr Neal Fogarty, program leader of the Information Nucleus, says the information will flow directly and rapidly to breeders and industry via SGA through more accurate ASBVs, which will eventually be enhanced by the incorporation of molecular information. "The first matings of the Information Nucleus occurred in early 2007 so that progeny will be available for evaluation in the first year of the Sheep CRC's operation," Dr Fogarty says. "The 5000 matings represent the major sheep types in the industry and generate Merino, Border Leicester X Merino and Terminal first and second cross progeny." AN INFORMATION NUCLEUS TO TRANSFORM WOOL PRODUCTION A key program of the new Sheep CRC will provide next-generation information on genetics and new traits for the industry Dr Alex Ball, manager of lamb and sheepmeat research and development at Meat and Livestock Australia, oversaw the selection of sires and says they were chosen for a combination of several attributes. "We focused on high genetic merit for key production traits as well as genetic diversity, so that a broad range of bloodlines, strains and breeds were sampled," Dr Ball says. "Sires with linkage to the SGA database were included and additional sires with a high potential for influence on future generations were also sampled." The Information Nucleus sheep are run at Katanning in WA, Turretfield and Struan in SA, Hamilton and Rutherglen in Victoria and Trangie, Cowra and Armidale in NSW. The sites will hold regular field days to enable industry to view progeny of sires and keep up to date with the outcome of the programs. ú More information: www.sheepcrc.org.au/INF INNOVATION Members of the outgoing Australian Sheep Industry CRC Executive and Board inspecting Information Nucleus ewes. Pictured are (from left) Kevin Atkins, Christine Hawkins, Mark Ferguson, Ian Sinclair, Rob Woolaston, Bill O'Halloran, Paul Grieve, Steve Thomas, Milton Curkpatrick, Steve Walkden-Brown, Geoff Hinch, Dave Jordan, James Rowe, James Kennedy, Julie Lloyd, Ken Geenty and Joanne Sillince. Milton Curkpatrick, manager of the Kirby Research Station at the University of New England (UNE), Armidale, and Professor Geoff Hinch, head of the School of Rural Science and Agriculture, UNE, with freshly crutched Information Nucleus ewes.
Oct 07 - Nov 07
Aug 07 - Sep 07