Genetics & selection

Genetic improvement is a major factor contributing to the profitability of production systems for livestock and poultry. Breeding and selection have resulted in significant economic gains in beef, lamb, wool, milk, pork, egg and chicken production.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development hosts the Genetic Resource flock funded by Meat and Livestock Australia and the breech strike and worm resistant Rylington Merino flocks funded by Australian Wool Innovation Ltd. These flocks make use of measurement, modern statistical methods and DNA technologies to estimate breeding values for traits such as disease resistance, meat quality and reproduction that otherwise are difficult and expensive to measure. Outputs are used by sheep breeders through nationally recognised programs such as Lambplan and Merinoselect, to genetically improve meat and wool production from robust, easy care sheep.

The department also advises the local beef and dairy industries on genetic improvement programs in co-operation with Beefplan and Dairy Australia. Genetic improvement in the poultry and pig industries are mainly carried out by the private industry with input from research groups nationally and internationally.

Articles

  • An on-farm ram comparison is designed to improve your ability, as a commercial sheep producer, to confirm the suitability of a ram source for your flock.

  • Weaning percentage and therefore conception rate, can significantly influence profitability in the breeder herd.

  • Techniques to reduce livestock greenhouse gas emissions may also increase livestock productivity and resilience.

  • Carbon farming is the agricultural practices or land use to increase carbon stored in the soil and vegetation (sequestration) and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, soil or vegetati

  • Agriculture is responsible for 14% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions and is the dominant source of methane and nitrous oxide, accounting for 56% and 73%, respectively, of Australia’s emission

  • The aim of carbon farming is to sequester more carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as part of Australia's response to climate change.

  • Wool growers can achieve their breeding objectives by retaining superior breeding stock and by choosing superior rams.

  • Most of us benchmark our flock by eye; comparing our sheep with our neighbours' animals across the fence, or when talking with other farmers.

  • The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) carries out genetic research in sheep and contributes to developing modern tools to assist breeders in their success to breed b

  • The information nucleus flock was established by the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre in 2007 to transform wool and meat production of the Australian sheep industry to develop more accurate breedi