Sheep research pushes boundaries of precision production

New precision production tools include software that will help producers make informed decisions about which stock to keep.

Software developed by DPI sheep researchers includes Selection Assist, which enables advisors or classers to help producers decide on future breeding directions for their flock.

Selection Assist can be used to calculate how much progress producers can make with a certain breeding objective over time.

Assessments can be made based on a 5 year and ten year time horizon.

DPI researcher, Jess Richards, says Selection Assist also highlights the impact of reproductive rates on a flock, and where progress can be made from within a flock.

“The aim is to help producers be more confident about the likely outcomes of specific breeding objectives”, she said.

Selection Assist is among software available from the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre website. http://www.sheepcrc.org.au/selectionassist.

Meanwhile, new precision management tools including walk-through weighing were on show at a ‘Precision Pastoralism’ field day held on 14 September at Tony Thompson’s property ‘Prattenville’, near Bourke.

About 140 producers attended the day, which introduced the pastoral sheep industry to new technologies available for monitoring and managing individual animals, and for forecasting forage production at a paddock level.

Mr Thompson has worked with NSW DPI and the Sheep CRC to develop the precision pastoralism technology, and the field day was supported by NSW DPI sheep industry researchers including Dr Kevin Atkins, Jess Richards, Bill Murray and Ashley White.

In a separate development, Dr Atkins and NSW DPI researchers Dr Neal Fogarty and Dr Arthur Gilmour, recently presented invited papers to the 8th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production in Brazil.

This premier conference for livestock genetic improvement, held every 4 years, brought together over 1000 of the world’s leading scientists in this research area.

The DPI papers reviewed the latest research in use of sheep breeds and precision sheep systems.

Dr Atkins said that many of the developments in sheep breeding, genetic improvement and statistical procedures pioneered by NSW DPI are now being adopted in sheep breeding countries.