World’s largest database on sheep genetics

Australia launched the world’s largest database on sheep genetics, with the aim of improving breeding and boosting returns for producers. More than two million sheep, drawn from Australia’s 100 million-strong flock, will be incorporated into the database, which brings together the fragmented genetic records used in the past to produce a new comprehensive national system. “We have some tremendously exciting opportunities,” Australia’s Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran said. The new, consolidated service would allow stud breeders, sheep classers and commercial sheep producers to compare animals from different flocks on genetic merit for the first time, McGauran said, helping them to improve their revenue.

The new system will work with sheep producers, using scientific evaluation of their sheep to produce the best breeding outcomes. For example, the characteristics of sheep can be fed into the database, desired traits selected and a match produced for the most appropriate breeding rams. The new system, called Sheep Genetics Australia, is a joint initiative of the wool industry’s main marketing and research body Australian Wool Innovation and the meat industry’s marketing body Meat & Livestock Australia. Variations between genetic systems in the past had held back the industry’s development, McGauran said.

November 8, 2005

Original web page at Reuters