MLA Resource Flock

MLA Resource Flock

The MLA Resource Flock first began as the Sheep CRC Information Nucleus Flock (INF) in 2007 and ran for five years until 2012. Over these five years, there was a large number of traits collected every year on the progeny of 5,000 ewes that were joined to over 100 industry sires annually.

From 2012, the MLA Resource Flock commenced and began collecting traits that are hard to measure (phenotypes) and genotypes on the progeny of sires nominated from the industry by breeders.

In addition to underpinning genomic reference populations, the resource flocks are used for numerous other experiments, these include:

  • testing the effects of stress on meat phenotypes
  • calibration of carcase and meat quality measurement devices.

Structure of the resource flock

Annually you can nominate your sires to be used at the MLA Resource Flock sites. The two primary sites are at:

  • Armidale, NSW
  • Katanning, WA
  • Temora, NSW (satellite flock).

Approximately 120 sires selected from the nomination process are artificially inseminated to ewes across these sites. The progeny from these matings are genotyped and measured throughout their life and are taken through to slaughter, where a range of post-slaughter measurements are taken.

In addition to these sites, add-on projects are run to complement the MLA Resource Flock. These projects aim to capture information from breeder flocks, some of which is not captured in the MLA Resource Flocks such as reproduction. Add-on projects also aim to target how information for hard-to-measure traits can be collected on-farm.

Why get involved?

Reasons to use genomics in the MERINOSELECT and LAMBPLAN evaluations include:

  • more accurate selection of young animals
  • selection of animals for hard-to-measure traits such as eating quality
  • more accurate selection of animals for traits expressed later in life such as reproduction.

Selection criteria of sires for the resource flock

The MLA Resource Flock aims to develop an industry reference population and focuses on diversity more than genetic merit.

Key selection criteria include:

  • Relatedness to animals already in the MLA Resource Flock – animals that are less related to the animals already used in the resource flock are preferred.
  • The age of animal – is the animal reflective of the industry into the future? Younger animals are more likely to be related to future populations.
  • Representation of the breed in the industry.

Annually approximately 120 sires are selected from a range of breeds. The number of sires selected from each breed depends on the:

  • representation of these breeds in industry
  • size of the reference already created for each breed.

MLA Resource Flock add-on projects have their own selection criteria outlined in the Expressions of Interest of each project.

How to get involved?

If you are interested in nominating a sire/s to be used at the MLA Resource Flock sites, nominations open annually in spring. Details of the nominations will be communicated via monthly updates, Breeders Bulletin and email.

If you would like to receive these publications, contact us or subscribe to recieve our monthly enewsletter. Details of the nominations will also be published on the website

Applications for MLA Resource Flock add-on projects will also be sent through these communication channels.