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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2015 2016
14 SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2015-16 Sheepmeat Industry Strategic Plan 2010-2015 Review /Achievements (continued) and the product is safe, convenient and nutritious. Under Strategic theme 4: Market access, promotion and product integrity goals have been achieved in market access with the Australia China FTA, maintaining our clean green image with residue monitoring programs and increasing shelf life across lamb products. Domestic lamb promotion has been focused on times of the year such as Australia Day, spring and until recently Mother’s Day. While there is a significant increase in sales during the campaigns in the period of SISP 2010-2015, Australian consumers’ willingness to pay more for lamb has been tested, with retail prices climbing to record highs in 2011. Despite continued global demand for lamb, domestic demand for lamb remained relatively stable, and market value share was largely retained. The Australian sheepmeat industry remains committed to animal welfare. Programs that were either initiated or achieved under Strategic theme 5: Welfare included development of publications ‘A producers guide to sheep husbandry practices’ and ‘Fit to load’, development of methods of pain aversion (Numnuts) and implementation of the Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) in live export markets. The development of Numnuts, a method of administering anaesthetic while applying elastrator rings, has been successfully completed but commercialisation is still to occur. The welfare program is very difficult to quantify but it is estimated that during 2010-2015 it has potentially avoided the risk of a 1% fall in demand and supply due to adverse publicity associated with on-farm animal welfare practices. Protecting Australia’s favourable livestock disease status and reputation is fundamental for the sheepmeat industry. STRATEGIC ACHIEVEMENTS Genetics, Genomics & Meat Elite DNA technology has developed rapidly over the past decades and it is now relatively cheap to generate information from the DNA of individuals. Information from a DNA test can be used to predict traits or determine parentage. Taking a DNA test from an animal is sometimes referred to as ‘genotyping’ the animal. Genomic selection allows ram breeders to select young animals for breeding using a DNA test in conjunction with phenotypic data and pedigree to increase the accuracy of ASBVs. Genomic selection is particularly useful for traits that are measured later in life, for example adult wool weight or mature weight, or reproduction, and for traits that are difficult to measure on breeding animals such as meat traits. Selecting rams more accurately and earlier is beneficial for breeding programs as higher rates of genetic gain can be achieved in a ram breeder’s flock with a high accuracy of selection of breeding animals combined with a short generation interval. Meat Elite Australia is a collaborative group of 19 Poll Dorset breeders spread across the nation who work together to give their clients a genetic edge with their sires when producing prime lambs. The Meat Elite flock of approximately 8000 Lambplan tested females has proven to be a powerful genetic pool for the industry and the breeders have used this genetic base to increase muscling and growth in their sheep. As Dale Price of Majardah Stud, Glencoe in South Australia explained, each year Meat Elite members identify 12 to 15 young sires for conformation, genetic performance and breeding diversity to test mate across a minimum of four flocks. Sires used within flocks must meet stringent breeding objective targets based on accurate data and on-farm performance for inclusion. The ability to genotype potential young sires for the Meat Elite Young Sire Program has a number of benefits including: • An assurance that parentage details are correct • Identification of an animal’s meat eating qualities • Higher levels of accuracy in potential breeding outcomes • Assisting with the identification of elite animals for embryo transfer programs. ‘Genotyping lessens the capacity for human error in data collection and recording, while giving us the opportunity to really target a wider range of traits for continued genetic improvement,’ Mr Price said. “Meat Elite’s genetic gains have consistently given the group’s flocks a competitive edge over the terminal ram breeding sector. Utilising genomics I believe, will compound gains even further, due to increasingly accurately ASBVs and the group’s capacity to identify the next generation of sires and dams to meet the expectations of producers, processors and ultimately the consumer.” During 2010-2015 the Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN) was piloted as a joint venture by the sheepmeat, wool and cattle industries. The purpose of LBN is to build a network of public and private collaborators to assist with the delivery of animal health, welfare