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 Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) 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.

DAFWA 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.


  • 15 September 2016

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

  • 27 September 2016

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

  • 28 October 2016

    Genetic selection enables both wool and sheep producers to make positive and permanent genetic gains in their flock.

  • 12 July 2016

    The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) carries out genetic research in sheep and contributes to developing modern tools to assist breeders in their success to breed bette

  • 22 November 2016

    The genetic potential of pigs can have a major influence on the productivity and profitability of a pig enterprise.

  • 22 November 2016

    There are a number of factors that may contribute to pigs having high backfat (P2) and therefore graded fatter than what is required by the market.

  • 16 November 2016

    Artificial breeding is the use of technologies such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer. Artificial insemination (AI) involves placing semen directly into the uterus.

  • 30 January 2017

    Cattle producers regularly make visual assessments of their cattle.

  • 8 February 2017

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

  • 9 February 2017

    RamSelect and Bred Well Fed Well workshops aim to increase your confidence in ram selection and purchase through utilising Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) to assist you in buying the right