Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and the Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA) last week announced the beginning of 10 years of work to follow the expected 3,800 Merino ewes bred from a diverse array of 120 sires for up to seven years of age, with the first site at Harrow already off to a running start with 2015 joining completed.
Merino producers collect and analyse a large amount of data to make their breeding decisions. However one of the short falls of the current practice by many is a lack of enough consistent data that traces the full progression of the sheep’s performance during its lifespan. With the commercial influence of selling rams at an increasingly young age and therefore measurement of very young animals, it is difficult to know how well they perform at an older age.
Independent sites across Australia will be involved in collecting and recording this data with AWI committing $3.3 million over a 9-year investment towards this project plus further significant input from those involved in running the projects. The project plan is for ewe progeny to be “joined four to five times and assessed for a comprehensive array of fleece, body, and reproduction traits.” Both these ewes and their estimated 12,600 progeny will be measured with all progeny tobe DNA pedigreed.
Some interesting questions that many stud breeders want answers to can then be asked. See the Balmoral Victoria sire Evaluation Newsletter (Click here) for more information on this exciting project and information on their Field Day to be held on 10th April.