Choose your sex

14 Dec, 2005 08:45 PM

PLANNING the sex of lambs is an option not far away thanks to Australian Sheep Industry CRC postgraduate student, Simon de Graaf.

Simon is working with researchers at The University of Sydney, XY Inc and The Australian Sheep Industry CRC to develop money saving benefits of sex-preselection.

"The potential benefit that sex-preselection has for agriculture is improvement in breeding efficiency, production, and ultimately, profit," Mr de Graaf said.

There are many techniques designed to preselect the sex of a baby, none of which achieved success until the development of modern flow cytometry, a technique that allows the accurate identification and sorting of biological cells.

Simon believes that in the case of the Australian sheep industry the benefits of sex-preselection would primarily be noticed at the stud level.

"Stud producers who derive the majority of their income stream from the sale of high quality rams could increase their profit by producing a higher percentage of rams per lamb drop," he said.

Mr de Graff said graziers moving into the newer meat breeds could produce predominantly ewes in a lamb drop to increase the number of breeding females in a flock.

Good results so far place researchers in an excellent position to further refine the technique over coming months, produce more lambs and increase the knowledge and understanding of sex-sorted sperm function.

"Studies of sex-sorted sperm function and investigation of various beneficial additives will allow us to reduce the number of sperm used per insemination, which will reduce the price premium of a sex-sorted artificial insemination dose," he said.

"Culmination of these advances will hopefully propel this technology to commercial use in the Australian sheep industry and allow producers to profit from the benefits that sex-preselection technology can offer."


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