MLA Resource Flock Update

September 2019

Weaned Resource Flock lambs, January 2019
Kirby Research Station, University of New England, Armidale, NSW

Why nominate your sires?

The MLA Resource Flock ensures the essential development of a genomic reference population for the sheep industry, which is required for the utilisation of DNA tools in breeding programs. The project focuses on recording genotypes and performance measurements on hard to measure traits, such as eating quality, reproductive traits and later age stages; allowing for more accurate tools to assist in selection decisions.


As genomic research accelerates nominating sires in the Resource Flock ensures your flock is in the best position to capture the full benefits of genomic testing.

Benefits Include:

  • Increase the accuracy of ASBVs of the sires and closely related animals within your flock
  • Improve the chances of meeting accuracy thresholds for related young animals that are genomic tested in industry
  • Receive genomically assisted ASBVs, for hard to measure traits (eg. Lean Meat Yield) when submitting a Merino, Poll Dorset, Border Leicester, White Suffolk.
  • Progeny are measured from birth to slaughter contributing to research in hard to measure traits
  • Data from progeny entered into LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT (individual progeny results will not be provided). 
  • Genomic information included in the genetic evaluation (Benefit of genotype is still dependent on the breed’s current reference population size and status).
  • Smaller breeds will have a pathway towards future genomic testing.
  • Genotypes from sires will be stored in the database for future use for genomic research and by breeders for parentage testing

Katanning Reseach Station Dorper Flock
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, WA

2018 & 2019 Cohort Update

For the 2019 joining, 150 sires were selected with the following breeds represented:
White Suffolk, Poll Dorset, Suffolk, Merino, Dohne, Dorper, Southdown, Texel, Border Leicester, Hampshire, Coopworth, Corriedale, Aussie White, Composite Maternal & Composite Terminal. Sires were selected based on relationship to sires previously used in the Resource Flock, genetic diversity and index values. All sires have been genotyped with high density SNP chip (700k) for genomic evaluation.

A total of 2539 ewes were artificially inseminated (AI) over 3 sites (Temora NSW, Katanning WA & Kirby NSW). The first AI program for the year was at the satellite flock Temora with 312 ewes joined in late January 2019. Katanning then followed in early February 2019 with 1103 ewes joined of which 365 were Dorper ewes. In early May 2019, the AI program at Kirby was conducted with 1124 ewes inseminated.

At Katanning conception rates were good across the board with 73% of ewes conceiving. The Dorper mating conception was 67%. Despite severe drought across eastern Australia, Temora's conception rate at scanning was 67% and Kirby scanned 65% in lamb.

Currently the 2019 lambs at Temora and Katanning have been vaccinated, marked and had DNA samples taken. All lambs will be genotyped with a 50k SNP chip. While lambing will commence at Kirby at the end of September 2019.

The 2018 lambs from both Temora & Katanning have been slaughtered and carcase quantity and quality data recorded. The majority of 2018 Kirby lambs have been slaughtered with one remaining cohort to be measured once target weights are achieved. Traits measured on 2018 lambs included birthweight, body weights, carcase scan data and meat science measurement including objective measurements for retail colour, shear force (tenderness) and loin intramuscular fat percentage.

On top of the traits recorded under the MLA Resource Flock project, samples were taken for tasting panels through an overlay project with Murdoch University. This project will value add to the MLA Resource Flock and will link genetics to consumer outcomes, build the required datasets for MSA in sheep as well as provide the R&D datasets required when considering any new consumer focused ASBV’s.

Through the ALMtech project, which aims for producers of beef, sheep and pig farmers to have access to more accurate descriptions of the key attributes that influence the value of their livestock (Carcase Lean Meat Yield, Eating Quality and Compliance to Market Specs), Resource Flock data has been used to train new technologies currently being developed to enable real-time objective measurement of profitable carcass traits that underpin lean meat yield and eating quality by the ALMtech team. Some of these technologies encompass scanning, ultrasound, microwave and digital imaging technology.

For further information or if you have questions please email:

Lamb at Temora Satellite Flock                        


Collecting data at birth, Katanning