Science and Technology

Using sheep genetics and nutrition to boost sheep production rates

Sheep farmers can learn how to combine the science of genetics and ewe nutrition to boost reproduction rates and productivity at a series of Bred Well Fed Well workshops.

The Bred Well Fed Well workshops are being delivered with the assistance of the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) as part of the Sheep Industry Business Innovation project, made possible under the Royalties for Region program.

DAFWA sheep genetics development officer Meghan Cornelius said modern science could help take the guesswork out of important decision-making and for sheep producers the information in these workshops was invaluable in developing breeding objectives and feeding programs to get the best out of a flock.

The workshops are funded by Meat & Livestock Australia and will be held from mid-July 2016.

Practical sessions will include condition scoring, feed budgeting, ram rankings and ram selection.

Where the science comes in, is in finding out what is possible to achieve using Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) and understanding Sheep Genetics and the benefits it can have for ram breeders.

The workshop will delve into understanding the importance of ASBVs — which is an estimate of the genetic potential a sheep will pass on to its progeny — and how, when used along with visual assessment, they can assist producers in buying the right genes for their sheep business.

Examples will show how selecting rams based on ASBV’s can improve production and profit.



Ms Cornelius said the aim of the workshop was to provide scientific data and tools in a forum where it can then be given a practical application.

“The Bred Well Fed Well workshop is a great opportunity for sheep producers to understand how this genetic information balanced with the right ewe feed management can be applied to their business to create better results,” Ms Cornelius said.

Sheep Genetics is the national genetic information and evaluation service for the meat and wool sectors of the sheep industry delivered as LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT. The program produces a range of tools to assist with breeding and selection decisions including estimated breeding values and indexes.

The workshops will focus on how to use those breeding tools to enhance the overall profitability of a sheep farm and how farmers can develop a breeding objective for their particular flock.

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