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Wool and meat genetics--- the joint possibilities

Neal Fogarty, E. Safari, A.R Gilmour, V.M. Ingham, K. D. Atkins, S. I. Mortimer, A. A. Swan, F. D. Brien

Abstract


\"Wool and meat contribute to profit in sheep enterprises and both need to be considered in breeding programs. The relative responses expected from selection for a range of traits are presented and the realised responses that have been achieved in Merinos and variation in maternal breeds are illustrated. Knowledge of genetic parameters is required for the development of complex breeding objectives and selection indexes, comprehensive genetic evaluation of animals and the design of effective breeding programs. A review of world literature has highlighted the lack of accurate estimates of genetic parameters, especially for genetic correlations between trait groups. Analyses of a combined dataset from seven Australian Merino resource flocks comprising over 2000 sires and up to 100,000 records for each of various traits have provided accurate estimates of parameters to fill these gaps in current knowledge. The results show that there are no major genetic antagonisms between wool and meat traits and that improvement of both can be achieved by using appropriate selection indexes. Sheep Genetics Australia now provides a common system for genetic evaluation of Australian sheep, including across-flock estimated breeding values for a comprehensive range of traits and several standard indexes for various wool and meat breeding objectives.

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