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ARTICLES >> Livestock Articles

Trial results prove value of ASBVs in sheep selection

Posted by Bestprac on Feb 28 2013

Sheep CRC

Key findings:
• When ASBVs are used to select rams they consistently deliver a more productive flock
• ASBVs offer benefits to all production systems, whether they are Terminal, Merino or Maternal flocks
• ASBVs provide increased certainty in selecting the right ram for a breeding program

The jury is in and the verdict is clear: the use of objective breeding values in selection programs deliver more productive sheep.

Results from the 2006 Bathurst Merino Association’s PIRD ‘First x Lamb Production in Fine-wool Merino Flocks’ trial compares income levels from terminal sires selected with and without the assistance of breeding values. The results were across two sites,
 where two groups of terminal sires (half with LAMBPLAN breeding values,
 half selected without) were joined to fine wool Merino ewes. A review of results from more than 50 industry trials – including data from research sites, on-farm demonstration sites, producer groups, progeny tests and flock selection trials – has concluded that breeding values and associated technologies are delivering real economic value to the Australian sheep industry.

Anne Ramsay, of Stenhouse Consulting, conducted a systematic review of all available trials evaluating the use of LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT ASBVs on behalf of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) and Sheep Genetics, to bring together a reference document of results that will assist industry when considering the adoption of breeding values.

“This comprehensive review clearly documents the dollar benefits from using objective genetic selection tools, including Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs), for all types of sheep enterprise aiming to maximise productivity and profitability,” Sheep CRC Chief Executive James Rowe said.

“The review has included all available information on projects and demonstration trials testing the application of LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT ASBVs – regardless of their findings. However, the overwhelming picture from this work is the considerable benefits on offer from using breeding values and associated technologies.

“The benefits include an added degree of certainty in predicting progeny performance, increased genetic and production gains through faster growth rates and shorter turn-off times, improved flock quality and reduced production costs all of which significantly impact profitability.”

Prof. Rowe said ASBVs were constantly evolving and were now delivering solutions to a range of challenges including flystrike and worm management.

Operating as part of the Federal Department of Innovation Industry Science and Research’s CRC program, the Sheep CRC is a collaboration of industry, government and the commercial sector. It is working to increase the productivity and profitability of the industry through adoption of new technologies in both the meat and wool supply chains.

The list of projects summarised in the report, ‘Using ASBVs - What’s in it for me?’, were identified through consultation with a wide range of sheep industry groups, located in all states of Australia, to ensure that all relevant material was obtained. A large amount of the material is publicly available through the Livestock Library and the MLA Producer Initiated Research and Demonstration (PIRD) database.

“The benefits of using breeding values and other technologies are often put forward but the proof to support these statements has been scattered far and wide,” the report states.

“This review provided a chance to collate all the material, developed over the years, where the outcomes from using these technologies was actually measured and reported. The review ensures that the key findings of this very valuable material are not lost and that its collective impact can be appreciated and used by extension specialists, service providers, breeders and producers for many years.”

• The report, Using ASBVs - What’s in it for me? A review of the literature on the use of genetic technologies for the selection of dams and sires in sheep breeding programs, is available for download here.

Last changed: Mar 01 2013

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