The Sheep CRC announced two new genomic pilot projects to advance the delivery of DNA-based breeding tools during the opening of the LambEx conference in Bendigo.
Speaking at a CRC breakfast forum called "Genomics – sheep breeding's holy grail", CRC chief executive James Rowe told the crowd of almost 400 that the new pilot projects would pave the way for the commercialisation of new DNA tests for breeding traits, horned/polled, and parentage.
"The Sheep CRC is developing two new Genomics Pilot Projects, the first offering participants a new parentage test that will also provide prediction of horn-poll, while the second will be a genotyping test for a broad range of traits in young sires," Professor Rowe said.
"The parentage test is anticipated to be more accurate than existing tests based on microsatellite technology and importantly, the results will be transportable as new products for genotyping are developed.
"The accuracy of predicting breeding values is steadily improving as more data becomes available and, at the same time, the cost of genotyping is continuing to fall.
"We are therefore confident that in 2013 the genomic tests will be available to the industry on a commercial basis and will provide a good return on investment."
The breakfast forum also featured presentations from researchers Rob Banks, of Meat and Livestock Australia, and Ben Hayes, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, who discussed how genomic science was benefitting lamb production and quality, and the potential to capture further gains in the future.
South Australian ram breeder Andrew Michael, of the Leachim Stud, told attendees of his involvement in earlier Genomics Pilot Projects and the Information Nucleus Program, and how the new technology was resulting in faster genetic gain in his flock and more control over genetic selection.
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