The Australian Sheep Industry Co-operative Research Centre (Sheep CRC) is undertaking a multi-disciplinary program of research and development, technology transfer, and education / training for the sheep industry. Its particular focus is on integrating the two sheep products, meat and wool, and to assist producers to maximise profitability by hitting market specifications.
The main parties in this CRC include CSIRO, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Department of Agriculture - Western Australia, University of New England, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Meat & Livestock Australia, the Australian Meat Processors Corporation and Fletcher International Exports Pty Ltd.
The CRC has its headquarters at Armidale in NSW and is funded until June 2008.
More information about the Sheep CRC is available at www.sheepcrc.org.au/.
NSW DPI has an important role in a number of research areas:
Genetics - There are huge opportunities available to sheep breeders and producers through exploiting genetics. Research undertaken by NSW DPI in the Sheep CRC is providing more accurate genetic parameter estimates relating to associations between wool, meat, reproduction and disease traits. This means breeding stock will be more accurately evaluated, with better prediction of the outcome of selection decisions in industry flocks, and better ways found of combining information to improve both wool and meat production for more profitable sheep flocks.
Wool - On farm research conducted by NSWDPI is providing industry solutions for selection decisions, grazing management, choice of shearing time and clip preparation that maximise wool quality and the value of the wool clip.
Meat - This work has seen the establishment of a resource flock at Cowra AR&AS for muscle and fat biology research. Other areas of research include examining changes in hydration status of lambs and the impact of different post-slaughter electrical inputs on tenderness and eating quality. This work is complementing a large national program which is designed to develop an eating quality scheme for sheepmeat in Australia.
e-sheep - Individual animal management systems for precision production. Improving the flexibility and profitability of sheep enterprises by combining new and existing technologies will only be possible if we move from the current practices of managing ‘the flock’ to systems that focus on measuring, managing and marketing individual animals or selected groups of animals. The use of on-farm measurement, electronic identification and integrated hardware-software systems will allow precision production strategies to be applied. The e-sheep program is working with producers and commercial companies to enhance and demonstrate the benefits of applying precision sheep principles under commercial conditions. More information about e-sheep is available at http://www.sheepcrc.org.au/index.php?id=4.
Extension and education - NSW DPI is assisting in using a network of extension workers, TAFE’s and other education providers to develop a series of national vocational and industry programs for sheep meat and wool training.