Sheep Industry Business Innovation

Rams with Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) are on the rise

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ASBVs are a necessary tool to determine which ram has the most appropriate genes to pass onto their progeny and in the longer term increase the rate of genetic gain not only for individual flocks but for the Australian sheep flock as a whole.

Since the inception of the SIBI project three years ago, department staff have been working closely with studs and commercial producers to increase the adoption of ASBVs, one of the fundamental genetic tools that will enable producers to increase the productivity of their sheep enterprises.

SIBI Development Officer Melanie Dowling said “At the close of the 2017 ram buying season the proportion of rams sold at auction with ASBVs are up 5.2% compared to 2014, however, the number of studs at those auctions has decreased.

“This suggests that even though there are fewer studs at auction, those that are there are increasingly using ASBVs and are selling more animals overall.”

The proportion of Merino rams sold at auction with ASBVs is much lower than the terminal and maternal breeds. Both the Merino and terminal/maternal breeds have seen an increase in rams sold with ASBVs between 2014 and 2017 with the Merino’s increasing from 22.7% to 29.1% and the terminal/maternal breeds increasing from 60.8% to 71.9%.

The rise in proportion of rams sold with ASBVs demonstrates a steady increase in adoption of ASBVs in the WA sheep industry. The Merino industry still has a long way to go in terms of adopting ASBVs and there is also still room for improvement in the terminal and maternal breeds however producers are increasingly seeking rams with ASBVs to improve and speed up the genetic gain of their flocks. 

Melanie added, “The recent introduction of the DNA Flock Profiling tool which allows commercial producers to benchmark their flock and get an average ASBV figure for the major production traits provides an excellent launching pad for producers wanting to start buying rams with ASBVs.

“As EID technology and sheep handling equipment become more affordable and improved there has never been a better time for late starters to move towards adopting ASBVs.”

Throughout the lifespan of SIBI, 87 producers have attended a RamSelect workshop, 57 producers have attended a Bred Well Fed Well workshop and 23 studs have attended a DataSmart workshop. 

The next DataSmart workshops are being held in Katanning on 27 February and 1 March with electronic identification and Excel training on 28 February. 

For more information, or to register, please contact SIBI Development Officer Bec Butcher, rebecca.butcher@dpird.wa.gov.au