THE 2014 Sheep Updates has delved into the history of genetic improvement in WA and introduced new and the emerging issues in genetics and genomics.
The Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) event targeted sheep producers and breeders and agricultural advisers and was held yesterday at the University of WA.
The conference theme of Breeding better sheep provided participants with a timely update on the latest developments in sheep breeding to help boost production.
DAFWA senior research officer Johan Greeff presented results from genetic research in sheep breeding for wool, meat and disease resistance that had been carried out in WA during the past 30 years.
"Historically, our research has driven new and amended breeding technologies for the sheep industry, and continued research and new methodologies that arise from it are expected to further benefit industry," Dr Greeff said.
"One of the most exiting recent developments is the use of DNA technology to determine the breeding value of animals for traits that are expensive and difficult to measure, such as carcase quality, disease resistance and reproduction.
"DNA technology makes it possible to identify genetically superior animals at a young age, resulting in an increased rate of genetic gain."
Conference participants learned practical techniques to help producers navigate the abundance of genetic information available to breeders.
Other speakers at the Sheep Updates included economic analyst John Young, speaking on the contribution of better breeding to the bottom line, and Luke Stephen of Sheep Genetics, who advised participants how to use traits and indexes in the paddock.