Illoura has supported the Sheep CRC with the research on genomic evaluation and SNP chip technology. This technology uses DNA samples to measure a range of traits and Illoura uses this DNA test for the top sires within the stud. This DNA testing will improve the accuracy of the ASBV’s for sheep provided at our sale.
It also provides useful information about the hard to measure traits like worm resistance and the meat characteristics that determine the meat eating quality. It allows selection of genetically superior rams, earlier in their life with much more confidence.
Sheep meat eating quality
The DNA testing provides information about hard to measure traits like Lean Meat Yield (LMY) & Dressing Percentage (DRESSPE) which are important information for the processor. It also provides information about Intramuscular Fat (IMF) and Shear Force at 5 days (SHEAR5) which is an important measure of the tenderness and eating quality of the lamb. Interestingly, increasing Lean Meat Yield generally has a negative effect on meat tenderness and flavour. The challenge is to increase LMY and not jeopardise the fantastic quality of the meat, so LMY and eating quality need to be managed together.
Although we don’t expect financial gain for our clients in the near future by being involved with this DNA research, it is important that we continue to participate to ensure that lamb consumers continue to have a great eating experience. This will benefit the whole industry and help ensure the future of the lamb industry. Did you know, it takes 4 times as much feed for a lamb to produce 1 kg of fat compared with producing 1 kg of meat. Therefore, it is inefficient to try increasing IMF by simply increasing subcutaneous fat.
Objective Carcass Measurement and Livestock Data Link
I have been talking about the development of this technology for a few years now, and it is very pleasing that MLA and processors have bitten the bullet and are going down this path. This technology will mean that producers will get much more information about the yield and eating quality of the sheep and lambs that are being processed.
This will assist producers to provide a consistent quality product which will ultimately ensure a consistently good eating experience for consumers.
At Illoura we continue to DNA test our young sires to ensure that eating quality is maintained, which will position or clients well when producers are rewarded for good yield and good eating quality.