The key to staying on top of the flock is keeping ahead of the eight-ball.
This was the key objective of the future for 150 Poll Dorset breeders when they came together this week at the biennial national conference held in Orange, NSW, hosted by the Central West region.
Enveloping the conference and it's futuristic approach was the question presented to speakers, "what will the terminal sire look like in 2039?"
The assignment gathered thought provoking responses, but nevertheless, ones that will need to be implemented if the breed it to progress successfully and remain an industry leader into the future.
Dr Stuart Barber, a lecturer in veterinary science at the University of Melbourne who also runs a commercial Poll Dorset operation, said both the ram and ewe of the future were equally important.
He believes the industry should be looking at an animal that is resilient in the environment and relatively easy care - a common theme that he doesn't believe will change in the next 20 years.
"We have a really high-level product in the lamb industry, and I don't see that changing, but there will be more pressure in making sure that what we have is of consistently of high quality," Mr Barber said.
"When people eat it, it needs to be consistently juicy, flavoursome, with no toughness.
"We also need to keep the growth rates, but not getting animals that end up being 250 kilogram sheep."
But Mr Barber said as much as looking at the animal, it is also about looking at ourselves and how we manage our stock, including social licence.
"We have to make sure we have the licence from the 95 per cent of people that don't live on farms and don't know a lot about farms," he said.
"To make sure we share that story of what we do with those resilient and high quality sheep that we have."
According to Graham Gilmore of Tattykeel Meat Breeds, Oberon, NSW, the future is about genetics. He said "to look forward we have to look back".
"Looking back at rams (over 20 years ago) they show different attributes to what our bred has today. They were smaller and produced a lamb at a different weight," Mr Gilmore said.
"I am not saying producers go back to the future, what I am saying I think eating quality of the Poll Dorset ram in 20 years time will be extremely important as will genomics.
"The other thing that will be incredibly important is his conversion rate, or his progeny's conversion rate."
But the big challenge, Mr Gilmore said, will be how producers get that animal to perform on less feed, not more.
Known for his ability to look ahead is sheep industry representative Matthew Coddington of Roseville Park Merino stud, Dubbo, NSW.
He believes those in the industry may be able to change the breed a lot differently than what thought possible in the next 10 to 20 years.
"The 2039 ram needs to be one that is adapted to climate change - we have seen some very different scenarios with our weather patterns," Mr Coddington said.
"Feed conversion is very important as will be caping mature weight.
"There are things that happened in the last 10 years that we didn't know would be available to us, for example genomics."
He said breeding more things such as Omega 3's to meat, and health benefits that we might be able to find from new technology moving forward are all important.
Other key topics dominating discussions at the conference were breeding programs with emphasis on key objectives, climate change and low rainfall.
Alongside this was marketing stud stock, latest research on mastitis, campylobacter, brucellosis, summer pneumonia and lamb survival.
Central West region secretary, Ruth Klingner, said attendees at the conference had provided her with positive feedback.
"Everyone seems to have got something out of it as well as have a good time," Ms Klingner said.
"The forum at the end of day two was a terrific opportunity for breeders to speak their thoughts.
"It was an opportunity for the attendees to network with each other, the speakers and other industry professionals, share knowledge and I believe it put the breed in a good place moving forward into the future."