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Wool Stocktake : AWI Annual Report 2015-16
PROGRAM 4: GENETICS & GENOMICS INVESTMENT FOCUS The focus of this program is consolidating around broad industry engagement in the conduct of all forms of genetic improvement (eg sheep classing skills, wether trials, sire evaluation, and MERNOSELECT), and addressing limitations of existing methods (eg the Merino Lifetime Productivity trial). • Support for genetic benchmarking for wool sheep across Australia (wether trials, sire evaluation, Merino Lifetime Productivity and MERNOSELECT). • Completion of a new business plan for Sheep Genetics, which provides much greater transparency of private good (provision of breeding values to clients) and public good (ongoing research and development by AWI and MLA) components, reduces risks to core operations’ continuity, and strengthens engagement with industry. • Increase in collection of lifetime fleece, body, and fertility data across wool sheep flocks, in close cooperation with stud breeders. • Revision of MERNOSELECT indexes to better account for environmental costs of genetic progress. • Review of the genetics and genomics portfolio, with particular emphasis on value proposition, technology uptake, subsidisation, and service commercialisation. STRATEGIC TARGETS Targets for three-year period 2013/14 to 2015/16 Progress during 2015/16 Increase use of genetic benchmarking by 5% a year to 2017 across stud animals. On track. Participation by Merino breeders in MERINOSELECT increased by 2.6% in 2015/16, and has averaged 8.8% per annum growth for the 5 years from July 2011. The Dohne Merino component declined by 5.2% in 2015/16, and by an average of 5.1% for the period since July 2013, when transfer of the Dohne membership from Advanced Breeding Services to MERINOSELECT was completed. Combined membership increased by 1% in 2015/16, and has averaged 7.0% growth since July 2013. Significant increase in sires involved in AMSEA/AWI trials through Merino Lifetime Productivity trial and Merino Sire Evaluation sites with interest in new sites encouraging. Preliminary target of 6% increase in the current rate of genetic gain across the industry by 2017. Progressing. Significant increases in MERINOSELECT indexes have been observed over the past five years providing strong evidence of genetic progress at an individual animal level. AMSEA reporting highlights widespread usage of Merino Superior Sires in the Australian wool industry. Further work is required to explore potential divergence of views about applicability of genetic progress on a per hectare basis compared to per animal basis. KEY RESULTS DURING 2015/16 Merino Lifetime Productivity project • Three sites are currently participating in the AWI funded Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) project. The project is being conducted in partnership with the AMSEA. • The Elders Balmoral site (Tuloona in Victoria) has completed two joinings for the trial (2015 and 2016) while the MerinoLink (Temora, NSW) and Pingelly (Western Australia) sites joined foundation ewes for the first time in 2016. • A fourth site representing a higher summer rainfall is under active consideration for inclusion in the project with an expected first joining likely in 2017. • Strong industry interest exists from other sites with an expectation that the interest will be strong enough to dictate a review of the project at AWI Board level to consider expansion of the project to include additional sites across Australia. • The long-term trial will explore a suite of productivity and profitability related attributes for a broad diversity of leading Merino genetics across a range of environmental conditions. • The first ‘Tuloona’ field day showcasing the first MLP trial lamb drop (2015 lambs) attracted very strong woolgrower interest with visitors keen to observe the early performance of the diversity of genetics on offer at the site. Information on the performance of progeny from the range of sires will continue to be generated and disseminated over the life of the project. • Similar field days will occur at other sites (NSW and WA) as lambs are born and data is collected. • Project expansion has led to an expected increase in the number of sires to be used in the MLP project increasing from 120 up to 135. A large number of woolgrowers attended the ‘Elders Balmoral’ sire evaluation site field day in April to view the latest sire evaluation progeny, including the Merino Lifetime Productivity project’s first drop of ewe progeny. REPORT OF 2015/16 OPERATIONS – ON-FARM R&D 15
AWI Annual Report 2014-15
AWI Annual Report 2016-17