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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2013
RY INNOVATION ADVERTISING FEATURE Meat sector backs CRC Extension All levels of the sheepmeat supply chain are represented among the 35 organisations supporting an extension of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC). An extension application has been lodged with the Federal Government, which outlines plans to enhance monitoring and management of sheep wellbeing, introduce value-based trading of sheepmeat, and deliver affordable DNA-based genetic tools. The proposed 'Quality-based sheepmeat value chains' research program will focus on improving the efficiency of the sheepmeat value chain through the application of new knowledge and technologies that provide accurate prediction of eating quality and saleable yield of retail cuts. The same research solutions developed for lamb supply chains will be used to create opportunities for currently undervalued heavier lean lamb and yearling Merino carcases. "The current Sheep CRC is delivering on all of its research objectives, some of which are already resulting in significant productivity benefits to industry," Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said. "We now want to take this work to the next level continuing the technological transformation of the sheep industry by supporting an application to extend the life of the Sheep CRC by another five years. "The importance of meeting these challenges has been recognised by all levels of industry, with sheep breeders, commercial producers, processors, service providers, supermarkets and research agencies all committing significant resources to the plan. This is the most comprehensive group that has ever been assembled to work cooperatively to shape and deliver a livestock research and development program with whole-of-industry benefits." • More information is available at the Sheep CRC's new website at www.sheepcrc.org.au Breeding with DNA for meat quality Two leading syndicates of terminal sire breeders, the Meat Elite group and the Superwhites group, are implementing state of the art breeding programs through commercial-scale use of new genomic technologies. The focus for both groups is to use DNA testing to identify breeding animals carrying genes for tenderness and intramuscular fat as the key factors determining eating quality. By placing meat quality traits at the forefront of genetic selection during ram breeding, these groups are moving to position their breeders as key suppliers of rams which will help industry continue to meet consumer demands for tender and flavoursome lamb. "Meat eating quality is too important to ignore. As consumer choice increases you can't have your genetics years behind market demand," said Australian White Suffolk Association President and Superwhites spokesperson, Murray Long, of Pendarra White Suffolk Stud, Ardlethan NSW. Superwhites and Meat Elite groups are two of the nine stud breeding operations participating in commercial-scale DNA trials being conducted through the third Genomics Pilot Project being run by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC). More than 1500 DNA tests were allocated for use in the commercial- scale research pilot, with a further 1500 tests allocated for smaller- scale testing by sheep breeders across the country as part of the program aimed at defining the most effective use of the new technologies in practical breeding programs. "Breeding values for intramuscular fat and tenderness will now be considered when selecting ram lamb sires for use across the group," Mr Long said. "Good scores for meat eating qualities may lead to the selection of an animal that wouldn't have been chosen for weight, fat and muscle alone. Similarly if an animal is strong across these ASBVs but has poor results for intramuscular fat and tenderness, it won't be selected. "This year research breeding values for meat eating quality will be a mandatory selection criteria for the nominated ram lambs of which approximately eight are selected as sires for use across the group." It is expected that the accuracy levels of estimated breeding values will further improve as a result of the additional data collected during the Genomics Pilot Project and through the Information Nucleus Flock program. These breeding values help breeders to accurately predict which rams will produce the desired traits in their progeny, as well as contributing to faster rates of genetic gain through selection and use of younger animals.. Genomic testing of around 20% of a stud's top young rams will provide cost-effective information to assist selection decisions for the next generation. The cost of DNA testing is continuing to fall and future DNA testing to be offered as a commercial service through Sheep Genetics is expected to be around $50/test. DNA tests being carried out as part of the Genomics Pilot Projects. Gathering eye muscle measurements from an Information Nucleus Flock carcase.