Analysis and Reporting Updates for LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT

May 2016

Annual Upgrades to the Genetic Evaluations

The LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT analyses are continually being developed to improve the genetic evaluation and supply the best tools possible to producers aiming to help improve genetic gain across the sheep industry. Major updates to the Sheep Genetics analyses are implemented once a year to minimise any disruption that may result from the changes. This year there are a number of significant updates to both LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT. It is important to understand the enhancements made to the analysis and why you may have seen changes to the ASBVs of your animals. All updates detailed below were added to MERINOSELECT on the 7th of May and LAMBPLAN on the 14th of May.

Additional Traits

Post Weaning Fleece Traits

In 2015 Post Weaning wool measurements were included in the MERINOSELECT analysis and ASBVS were calculated for PGFW, PCFW, PFD, PFDCV and PCURVE for the first time. Further data submissions have meant enough information to introduce Post Weaning ASBVs for staple strength (PSS) and staple length (PSL). Along with PSS and PSL, all post weaning fleece ASBVs will be reported in MERINOSELECT and implemented into the DOHNE analysis from the 7th of May.

Visual Traits

Visual traits can be submitted to Sheep Genetics when they are measured using the visual score guide created by AWI and MLA. Recently the number of measurements in the database for each trait was reviewed to see if they could be included in the analysis and reported to breeders. Wool Colour (COL), Wool character (CHAR), Fleece rot (FLROT) and Weathering (WEATH) have enough records from both research and industry flocks to produce ASBVs. All four traits will be reported as ASBVS when the analyses are updated. To find out more on how to visually score the three traits refer to the Visual Sheep Scores Guide.

Analysis Upgrades

Single Step Carcase Analysis

Until now all genomic information has been incorporated into ASBVs using a blended approach. The blended approach combines the pedigree based estimated breeding value with the genomic breed value to create a blended ASBV. To improve the application of genomics in the genetic evaluation carcase traits will now be calculated in a single step approach. The single step analysis will look at both the genomics information and the performance records in a single model and calculate the one reportable ASBV for each trait.

The single model for carcase traits will be implemented into the TERMINAL, MATERNAL and MERINO analysis. Updating to the Single Step process for carcase traits will allow genetic correlations with related traits to be used more effectively in the analysis. This will result in a larger number of animals having eating quality breeding values estimated. It is important to note that this is a significant change in the analysis and will impact the eating quality breeding values of animals between the two runs.

Mating Module

The reproduction analysis will start to use the data sent into Sheep Genetics through the mating module. This includes information on joining dates, pregnancy scans and ewe management. Pregnancy scans will highlight both fertility and litter size outcomes more clearly than has been done in the past and allow these records to be utilised in the calculation of number of lambs born (NLB). The ewe management groups, from joining to lambing, will help identify differences in management that will impact fertility, litter size and lamb survival. Which will be the basis of a more accurate estimation for number of lambs weaned (NLW).

Visual Age Stages 

To allow more information to be included in the analysis exclusion rules made at OVIS due to age have been reviewed. This will allow all wool, carcase and visual traits to be consistent in regards to the exclusions made by the analysis. The addition of visual traits previously excluded will have a slight impact on the ASBVs of visual traits; however the improvement will not have a significant impact on other traits.

Additional Adult Records (A5 and A6)

The OVIS analysis was upgraded in 2015 to accept three repeated observations in the analysis instead of accepting just the first record found between two and six years. The three age brackets allowed measurements up to 4.5 years of age. The analysis will now have an additional two age brackets bringing the age of measurements for wool and liveweight up to 6.5 years of age. The addition of repeated adult observations up to 6.5 increases the amount of data that is in the OVIS analysis and information that can be used in the calculation of adult traits.

Index upgrades

Eating Quality Traits in Terminal Sire Indexes

The introduction of the Single Step analysis for carcase traits will increase the number of animals that will have eating quality ASBVs. With more animals having eating quality breeding values available, there is now the opportunity to add eating quality into indexes. Terminals will have two new indexes available with the analysis upgrades, to address the antagonistic relationship between Lean Meat Yield and Eating Quality.

Maternal Index Review

The maternal index review commenced in 2015 with breeders asked to complete a survey to identify their breeding objectives and profit drivers. The information from the survey helped Sheep Genetics to evaluate the current breeding objectives and create three new indexes. The three new indexes are the Border Leicester Cross (BLX), Maternal Carcase Production (MCP) and the Maternal Carcase Production + (MCP+). Before presenting the new indexes consultation and feedback was requested through a webinar held on the 20th of May and a survey which closed on the 29th of April. For more information please see visit the Sheep Genetics website.

Further information

Click here to access the one page index explanations

Click here to view the slides from the Analysis Update Webinar click here.

Eating Quality Index review webinar - Eating Quality index review slides

Maternal Index review webinar - Maternal index review slides

Visit the Sheep Genetics YouTube Channel to watch the presentations: