Meat & Livestock News

Record Number of Genotypes Included in Sheep Genetics Evaluations in 2022-2023


  • A record number of genotypes were submitted to the Sheep Genetics evaluations in 2022-2023, marking significant genetic gains across the Australian sheep industry.
  • Over 420,000 new animals were submitted to MERINOSELECT and LAMPLAN evaluations, the highest in a single year since Sheep Genetics was established in 2005.
  • The use of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) has grown significantly among commercial sheep producers, from 14% in 2016 to 55% in 2023, demonstrating the financial benefits of utilising ASBVs for ram selection.

This surge in genotyping and other Sheep Genetics activities has been instrumental in driving genetic improvement across all industry indexes.

In an unprecedented development, more than 420,000 new animals were submitted to both the MERINOSELECT and LAMPLAN evaluations during this period. This represents the largest number of submissions in 12 months since Sheep Genetics was established in 2005.

The increase in the number of genotypes and the rate of genetic progress means that sheep producers now have access to a broader selection of animals with Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs), with the merit of these animals continually improving.

Throughout the year, Sheep Genetics experienced growth in both the number of animals in the evaluations and the number of members, reaching a total of 1,305 flocks. Peta Bradley, Manager of Sheep Genetics for MLA, highlighted the team’s dedication to working with a range of service providers and delivering for their growing client list.

The growth in the use of ASBVs within the commercial sector has mirrored the increase in the number of animals and clients involved in Sheep Genetics.

Significant genetic gains were achieved across all standard indexes, which combine several important production traits into a single number, serving as a crucial tool for driving genetic improvement. Notably, there was a 15% reduction in the Early Breech Wrinkle ASBV within the MERINOSELECT evaluation, alongside improvements in key production areas such as reproduction, growth, and fleece weights.

In the LAMPLAN evaluation, Terminal sire breeds saw improvements in Intramuscular Fat and Lean Meat Yield ASBVs, indicating enhanced meat quality and quantity.

The recent Genetics insights survey by MLA revealed a significant increase in the use of Sheep Genetics ASBVs by commercial sheep producers, demonstrating the financial benefits of utilising ASBVs in ram selection. Producers who use ASBVs were more likely to report improvements in their financial health compared to those who do not use ASBVs.

Throughout the year, the Sheep Genetics team engaged with over 900 seedstock and commercial producers at various events, including online workshops, training courses, and industry events. These engagements were successful in supporting new members and working with current clients of Sheep Genetics.

Peta Bradley commended the Sheep Genetics team and producers for their hard work over the past year, as well as the team at the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) for their contribution to the research and development behind the Sheep Genetics Evaluations. Looking forward, the Sheep Genetics program is set to continue its work with the industry over the next 12 months.