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Wool Stocktake : AWI Annual Report 2014-15
• Development of improved data collecting and analysis that leads to improved profitability and rates of genetic gain. • New tools to benchmark rates of genetic gain and highlight how higher rates of gain can be achieved. • Increased collection of older age fleece traits and lifetime fertility data. • Improve software for more automated methods of data collection and transfer. • Development of a viable Service Provider network of Breeding Value technology advisers. • Analysis of the value of genomic tools to the wool industry in relation to existing tools. • Addressing barriers to realising the value of existing tools. Increase use of genetic benchmarking by 5% a year to 2017 across stud animals. 37 new Merino and Dohne studs joined Sheep Genetics, an increase of 13% in 2014/15 (there was a 5% increase in the number of studs in 2013/14). The number of animals benchmarked rose 7% in 2014/15 and 6% in 2013/14. The number of ewe and wether trials and bloodlines involved is decreasing. Preliminary target of 6% increase in the current rate of genetic gain across the industry by 2017. With the number of new studs joining, the target is under review. There are a large number of studs making good gains but also a reasonable number achieving low gains. Further work required. • A new nine-year Lifetime Productivity Project was approved. The trial aims to assess the lifetime productivity of 3,000 unclassed ewes over their lifetime. It will compare the ewes' performance at very young ages, hogget age and early adult ages and eventually compare this information with their lifetime performance. The performance of the daughters will also be compared to the AI sires benchmark data. It is planned that 120 sires representing a very broad cross section of the industry will be joined by AI on four sites. The Balmoral (Vic) site has completed its first joining and the search for three more sites continues. • 2,200 copies of Merino Superior Sires were distributed which included the results of the 198 sires evaluated over the past five years. There were 10,699 downloads of site reports off the Merino Superior Sires website, well up from 7,902 in 2013/14 and 6,148 in 2012/13. Seven sites across WA, Vic, NSW, and Tas joined a total of 87 sires in 2014/15. 32% of all sires evaluated have progeny from semen sales in MERINOSELECT flocks. Sixteen historical sires (assessed 12 to 20 years ago) have been re-joined to reassess their performance against current industry sires and evaluate the robustness of across year linkage and genetic trends over time. • 37 new Merino and Dohne Studs joined Sheep Genetics in 2014/15, an increase of 13%. This is compared to a 5% increase in 2013/14. (All the 60 Dohne Studs joined Sheep Genetics in 2012 and are separately analysed in the "Dohne Merino" analysis). • The number of animals benchmarked, both Merino and Dohne, rose 7% in 2014/15 and 6% in 2013/14. • The MERINOSELECT analysis methodology was updated in April 2014 to include Post Weaner fleece traits (with the large swing by industry to assessment at this age), improved fertility analysis as a result of increasing data quality being collected by studs, and a reduced emphasis on increasing body weight in some of the indexes. • The MERINOSELECT website was updated, as was the Dashboard tool (to evaluate rate of genetic gain and how it can be improved) and the Matesel tool (to pre-empt what the mid parent performance will indicate of possible ram and ewe joinings, groups' rams and ewes and the whole drop). • A series of Service Provider forums were conducted by Sheep Genetics across most states. • A single step analysis (combining genomic "DNA" results with on-farm phenotypic data) has been trialled with carcass data with other traits to follow. • Data software providers have updated their data management products, with ongoing updates to occur, to assist in the collection of quality data on farm and improve the flow of information to and from Sheep Genetics. • An updated analysis of wether and ewe trial data conducted in the past decade was released in December 2014. There were 22 wether and ewe trials covering 71 bloodlines in the analysis. This compared to the 2010 analysis which included 57 trials and 268 bloodlines. The lower numbers arise from alternative benchmarking options, reduced Departmental staff and increased welfare compliance requirements by State Departments. • Seminal plasma proteins have shown to be essential for semen to move through the ewe's cervix. These plasma proteins damaged in the freezing and thawing process have been identified and work has commenced to find ways to prevent their damage. Cervical AI has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of laproscopic AI. • Slides to assist school and post school training in Merino Visual Classing and Stockmanship were completed and placed on the website. This will be followed by Train the Trainer session and regional workshops. The number of slides can be reduced to modify the presentation according to the skill and age of the audience. The content is able to be used by any presenter as there are no IP restrictions on the use of the content. REPORT OF 2014/15 OPERATIONS -- ON-FARM R&D
AWI Annual Report 2013-14
AWI Annual Report 2015-16