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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2014
CRC FOR SHEEP INDUSTR The long-held dream of guaranteeing the eating quality of sheepmeat to consumers is now within reach, with leading breeders across the nation embracing DNA tests developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC). Breeders like Western Australia's Dawson Bradford and South Australia's Dale Price (pictured) believe that genetic testing to identify breeding stock carrying key eating quality genes for intra-muscular fat, tenderness and lean meat yield, will help to eventually eliminate variability in consumers' eating experiences. However, its success means doing the hard work now to identify the right breeding stock for the industry. "Previously we weren't able to monitor or record these traits until after slaughter; DNA testing allows us to identify rams when they are young that meet these selection criteria so that we can build up that population," Mr Bradford said. "It will take three generations to really change our flocks once we identify the breeding stock, so it is absolutely paramount that we get the selections right now. That is where we are now, getting the foundations to launch into a breeding program focussed on consumer needs." The eating quality genes can be identified via the 12k genotyping test, which is available for $50 through the Sheep CRC. As chairman of West Australian Meat Marketing Cooperative (WAMMCO), Mr Bradford believes that in years to come it will not only be desirable to be able to guarantee eating quality, it will become increasingly necessary. "One thing the consumer doesn't like is variability in what they buy," he said. "They want consistency, whether consistently average or consistently good. It is absolutely critical as we go forward into the next 10 years to be able to consistently offer a product with superior quality to the run of the mill." The Sheep CRC's genomic research will continue for another five years, after it successfully applied to the Commonwealth Government for a $15m extension, with its new activities supported by $45m cash and in-kind from more than 35 industry groups including the Sheepmeat Council of Australia. Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said new research would focus on full genome sequencing which would deliver DNA tests with higher accuracies, extend genomic predictions to a broader range of breeds and lower the cost of maintaining the industry's resource flock. "The program will contribute to a rapid acceleration of the rate of improvement in the national sheep flock -- not only will there be the benefits of full genomic sequencing delivering more robust and reliable predictions of breeding values, we believe we will also be able to halve the cost of DNA testing through improvements in the genomic technologies." Over the next five years the Sheep CRC will also be working closely with the processing and retail sector to introduce value-based trading of sheepmeat and to create new markets for a range of under-valued cuts. Mr Bradford said genetic testing offered producers and industry a huge opportunity to increase the value achieved from certain cuts, mainly the middle value parts of sheep. He has DNA tested all of his elite rams to find those carrying the desirable genes for meat eating quality, while also utilising data gathered from the abattoir's in-line testing for desirable traits which can be traced back to the maternal flock. "If we are producing meat sheep, then we need to produce the best meat sheep and so the sooner we can identify the carriers of these genes in our flocks the sooner we can get it filtered right throughout the flock," he said. South Australian breeder Dale Price, of Majardah Poll Dorsets, said the DNA tests have allowed him to identify superior stock for improving his flock, as well as expose traits in rams that would have set back the rate of genetic gain. "We did the DNA testing for two reasons, both to select and improve the sheep we were using and also to avoid using sheep that would send us down the wrong track, because ultimately lamb is a premium product," Mr Price said. "In fact we have set aside rams that we have used in the past because they have shown to be negatively geared that way. "We now have the information to select for intra-muscular fat, shear force and lean meat yield in particular. We will be able to balance those traits in the ways that we want, but also monitor if they have any impact on the existing ASBVs as we want to protect the growth, fat and leanness we currently have. "As genomic testing progresses we will be able to make selections even earlier than we currently do and be even more targeted in pursuing the traits we want." More information on DNA testing is available from www.sheepcrc.org.au Transforming wool, meat and the sheep that produce them DNA testing turns meat quality dream into reality South Australian breeder Dale Price, of Majardah Poll Dorsets, said the DNA tests have allowed him to identify superior stock for improving his flock. The Sheepmeat Council of Australia played a prominent role in the establishment of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), and has acted as an effective conduit between producers and researchers, providing new ideas for R&D and delivering innovation back to producers. The Sheep Industry Strategic Plan has been a valuable guide in setting priorities for the Sheep CRC and identifying where its research outcomes have contributed to development of the industry. The articles following provide examples of how the Sheep CRC has delivered for the sheepmeat sector, as well as its plans for future research.
Sheepmeat 2015 2016