Merino productivity research creating more questions than answers

Merino productivity research creating more questions than answers

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Robert Mortimer, Centre Plus stud, Tullamore, with Mick Day, Bundemar, Trangie and Jim Gordon, Glensloy, Young, at the Macquarie 2020 MLP Field Day.

Robert Mortimer, Centre Plus stud, Tullamore, with Mick Day, Bundemar, Trangie and Jim Gordon, Glensloy, Young, at the Macquarie 2020 MLP Field Day.

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Making more questions than answers is what the Merino Lifetime Productivity Project is all about.

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MORE questions than answers have so far been sprouting from a Merino ewe lifetime project being conducted at five research stations in Australia.

But that's all good, according to Merino Lifetime Productivity Project committeeman and Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association executive officer, Ben Swain, Gunnedah, who was outlining the project in its fifth year.

"This is a 10-year project all about capturing lifetime data and we are half-way through it," Mr Swain said.

Ben Swain, executive officer, Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA) presents highlights of the Merino Lifetime Productivity Project during the Macquarie 2020 MLP Field Day.

Ben Swain, executive officer, Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA) presents highlights of the Merino Lifetime Productivity Project during the Macquarie 2020 MLP Field Day.

"It's across five different environments and across different genetics and we're about getting a fair understanding of what makes a sheep productive throughout her entire life, not just her first year or first joining.

The project so far has created heaps of questions.

"What are the traits we should be selecting for, and when should we select for them to get the maximum lifetime productivity in different environments and different production systems," Mr Swain asked to crowd of some 80 sheep industry breeders, graziers and industry at the 2020 MLPP field day hosted by the Trangie Agricultural Research centre recently.

Emily King, Australian Wool Innovation, Dubbo, with Megan Rogers, SheepConnects, Forbes, and Emily Pitt, AGnVET, Nyngan at the Macquarie 2020 MLP Field Day.

Emily King, Australian Wool Innovation, Dubbo, with Megan Rogers, SheepConnects, Forbes, and Emily Pitt, AGnVET, Nyngan at the Macquarie 2020 MLP Field Day.

The five participating sites hosting the project are at Balmoral, Victoria; Pingelly, Western Australia; Temora, Armidale and Trangie in NSW, where the same genetics are put into the different environments with the use of 5500 ewes and 134 sires.

Scott Thrift, Elders Stud Stock, Dubbo, with Jillian Kelly, District Vet, LLS, Coonamble, and Dominic Burden, Elders Wool, Dubbo, at the Macquarie 2020 MLP Field Day.

Scott Thrift, Elders Stud Stock, Dubbo, with Jillian Kelly, District Vet, LLS, Coonamble, and Dominic Burden, Elders Wool, Dubbo, at the Macquarie 2020 MLP Field Day.

Mr Swain said basically everything that can be realistically measured on a ewe was being done in the research.

"We are collecting an enormous amount of data, some 900,000 data to date and by the end of 10 years an estimated 1.6 million pieces of data," he said.

"However, that data collected is based on objective measurements and the other half is on visual selection.

"We will end up with a massive database that we go in to answer the hundreds of questions for many more years to come."

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