Selecting rams for this years sire teams has been one of the most challenging I have experienced for a number of years. If you’re not sure of your breeding objective, that selection is always more difficult. In 2016 we had Sheep Genetics analysis changes that made quite significant differences to eating quality. What were formerly research breeding values (RBVs) for eating quality and yield became asbvs for these traits through a process called “single step analysis” where information on other traits was included, along with correlations.

While there was significant re-ranking of sire for traits, we have to assume that these asbvs are now more accurate. At the same time new indexes were released LEQ (Lamb Eating Quality) along the lines of Lamb2020 plus eating quality, and EQ which is similar to Caracse Plus + eating quality. Sheep Genetics didn’t explain these as % emphasis on traits, but rather as change in traits over 10 years.

Interestingly if you go to (from the sheep CRC) you can see the breakdown of LEQ and EQ in terms of emphasis. LEQ is below

This is not our breeding objective. While I fully appreciate the need for emphasis on eating quality, an index with only 12% on growth and nothing on birthweight bears little resemblance to our clients requirements. 42% emphasis on a trait with low accuracy and little if any market reward seems excessive.

Our compromise this year was to use a combination of our own index – that has targets for birthweight and fat, and more emphasis on growth and is aligned with what our clients want to buy, and LEQ with its emphasis on eating quality. Because there are relatively few Poll Dorset sire lines with good eating quality we had to step outside our normal parameters for some asbvs to be able to incorporate some better eating quality. The challenge isn’t as difficult in the White Suffolks, although finding candidates in this breed with low birthweight and moderate fat is becoming more of a challenge.

For our main summer joining we are using 6 2016 drop Poll Dorset ram lambs and 3 White Suffolk ram lambs.

Our 2017 Poll Dorset sire team

1402470.2020.2-0.72.5-582.24.9-0.824.5151.04Pollambi 110451
1505450.3116.70.13.5-380.43.6-0.512.0149.87Pollambi 130052
1603840.3419.0-0.93.0-58-1.94.9-0.704.4151.67BD 133266
1604940.3918.1-0.13.5-50-3.84.7-0.864.6147.17BD 133266
Bruan 1500020.3315.4-0.83.321-2.05.0-0.541.4151.10Melton Vale 130384
HF 1301560.4215.60.04.3121.03.80.07-3.4168.80HF 110548
Marocara 1500490.4617.2- 110548

Our 2017 White Suffolk sire team

1507210.1018.1-0.43.5-343.63.8-0.55-0.4157.66LH 090160
Ella Matta 1500970.4017.40.32.2-600.02.20.01-0.3152.00Ashmore 130269
Farrer 1401880.1818.5-0.32.1-22-3.02.8-0.32-0.3148.75Farrer 130254
Farrer 1500960.4419.1-0.92.8-67-1.04.3-0.231.4162.00Galaxy Park 110210
Waratah 1501100.5817.5-0.71.8-23- Park 120367