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Wool Stocktake : AWI Annual Report 2016-17
The project is particularly active in Victoria and Southern NSW. It has been identified that project ambitions have not been addressed in the pastoral zone of Australia. The project team will consider the inclusion of the pastoral zone in later stages to better inform AWI research and extension strategies. 20 case studies are under development showcasing the work undertaken in commercial Merino businesses to grow profitability and productivity. • Realising Performance Potential and Ramping up Repro workshops have been developed and trialled during the year. Project pilots have been well received by participants with some 100 participants providing feedback. The one-day workshops offer best available information on ram and ewe management and culling strategies in a mix of theoretical and practical exercises. The projects assist woolgrowers to improve overall reproductive performance on properties. Both projects are being developed to allow promotion to woolgrowers across Australia. GENETIC IMPROVEMENT INVESTMENT FOCUS This program of investment will support increase in the net reproductive rate in Merino flocks of 15% by 2030, while maintaining fleece weight and increasing productivity per unit land area, through: • Increased collection of lifetime fleece, body and reproduction data in wool sheep. • Maintenance and improvement of Australia’s across-flock sheep genetic improvement infrastructure, including wether trials, central test sire evaluation, and MERINOSELECT. • Fostering improved within-flock sheep selection practices. STRATEGIC TARGETS Targets for three-year period 2016/17 to 2018/19 Progress during 2016/17 1. At least 3,800 Merino ewe progeny being evaluated for lifetime productivity across at least 4 regionally representative sites, in partnership with Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association. On target. More than 3,500 Merino ewe lambs already under evaluation with an expectation of this increasing to more than 4,500 by the end of the first phase of the project. 2. Routine, low-cost per head alternatives to genomic parentage technology in wide commercial use for mothering-up Merino lambs. On target. Technology being evaluated on commercial properties across Australia. 3. Australian sheep breeders maintain access to consolidated and improved wether trial, central test sire evaluation and MERINOSELECT databases. On target. All forms of genetic benchmarking in routine use by Australian sheep breeders. KEY RESULTS DURING 2016/17 • The Merino Lifetime Performance (MLP) project has continued to attract broad industry interest. As a result, the project was expanded to five sites and number of sires being evaluated to 160. The MLP project now includes sites at Elders Balmoral in Victoria, Pingelly in Western Australia, MerinoLink in NSW along with Macquarie and New England also in NSW. Strong interest from ram breeders has meant sire applications for use at each site have remained oversubscribed. Discussions are continuing with industry and participants to ensure that outcomes from the project are maximised for the benefit of the sheep and wool industry. The MLP project benefits from active management and guidance provided by a large network of collaborating ram breeders, industry service providers, commercial woolgrowers and associated organisations and institutions. The project’s aim is to increase the understanding of the genetics, and economic interactions, of a diverse range of Merino types delivering high quality wool, lambs and meat through life. 2017 MerinoLink field day, ‘The Vale’, Temora. • Interest in Central Test Sire Evaluation across Australia has continued to grow with an increase in trial sites from 6 to 9 occurring during the year. The number of sires entered in CTSE trials represents the largest group ever under evaluation in CTSE history. • Strong industry interest remains in tracking results from ewe trails and wether trials across Australia. REPORT OF 2016/17 OPERATIONS – SHEEP PRODUCTION 29
AWI Annual Report 2015-16