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Beyond the Bale : December 2013
The latest annual publication from the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA) has recently been released and is available in hardcopy through AMSEA and on the Merino Superior Sires website www.merinosuperiorsires.com.au. The 19th edition to be published since Merino sire evaluation first commenced in Australia in 1989, Merino Superior Sires contains the results of some of Australia’s leading sires evaluated at 11 individual sire evaluation sites over the past five years (2008 to 2012). AMSEA Executive Officer Ben Swain says that this year’s version includes results on 227 sires from 116 different studs. “Results for measured traits like fleece weight, fibre diameter, body weight, worm egg count and eye muscle depth are reported as Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs), which are generated by MERINOSELECT,” Mr Swain says. “These together with a summary of results from the visual classing of each of the sire’s progeny, including the grade the classer assigned each sheep to (Top, Flock or Cull), provides a very good picture of the sire performance when compared to all other sires entered in sire evaluation, across any of the sites. “Most of the data, both visual and objective, are taken at hogget and adult ages.” As well as results for key traits being published, individual sires are ranked on each of the three main MERINOSELECT indexes, which have been designed by Sheep Genetics to cover three different, but typical production systems. “By using one of the MERINOSELECT indexes reported that best relates to their own enterprise and sheep type nominated by the breeder of the sire, breeders can review how each sire’s genetics is likely to perform and what impact they will have on the their own breeding objective,” Mr Swain says. “Once a list of potential sires has been identified from Merino Superior Sires, breeders should then look at the more detailed information contained in the Site Report which is produced at each site as part of every trial.” Site Reports, which are available on the Merino Superior Sires website, list a comprehensive range of additional information that is not available through MERINOSELECT and is important to describing how the sire performed in a particular environment. “Detailed information for each sire on the outcomes of the visual classing of traits that describe wool quality, conformation and pigmentation, are all included in the Site Report,” Mr Swain says. “They also include within-site breeding values that compare the measured traits for the sires that were entered just at that site, as well as a full account of how the progeny were managed and the environment they were run in.” As was the case in last year’s Merino Superior Sires, the Top 50 sires entered over the past five years for each of the three MERINOSELECT indexes are reported in a separate section, together with a summary of their visual attributes as well as their genomic breeding value for Poll/Horn status. This is the only public report available on Poll/Horn status. “The publication of the Poll/Horn genomic breeding value is one of the many outcomes of sire evaluation’s commitment to work with other industry organisations, such as AWI and the Sheep CRC, to deliver commercial outcomes from DNA testing, now and into the future,” Mr Swain says. “Well over 200 sires entered in sire evaluation since 2009 have now been genotyped using the 50k SNP test. Whilst providing useful information back to breeders in the form of the Poll/Horn test and genomic enhanced research breeding values, the testing has provided an important source of validation for the DNA testing services that are now available through the Sheep CRC and Sheep Genetics. “All-time top 50 results are also available on the Merino Superior Sires website.” With sire evaluation joinings currently being planned across Australia for 2014, breeders are encouraged to get their entries in now to be part of future editions of Merino Superior Sires and benchmark their genetics to some of the best in the country. More information: Merino Superior Sires No. 19 as well as Site Reports can be downloaded from the Merino Superior Sires website www.merinosuperiorsires.com.au. For hardcopies of Merino Superior Sires or more information on entering a sire in 2014, contact Ben Swain, AMSEA Executive Officer, (02) 6743 2306, firstname.lastname@example.org FAST FACTS l The latest version of Merino Superior Sires, including results of 227 leading sires, was released in October. l Site Reports that provide detailed results for each site are available online. l Entries are now open for 2014 sire evaluation. Mer ino Super ior Sires released Merino Superior Sires No. 19 was released in October. 41 ON-FARM December 2013 BEYOND THE BALE