DNA tests quality of live sheep

Monday, June 06, 2011

Australian scientists are confident they can now tell the eating quality of a lamb while the animal is still alive.

In fact they are confident that such epicurean qualities can now be determined at the point of birth.

It is as simple as taking a DNA sample from a lamb and using the latest in genetic analysis - the SNP or single nucleotide polymorphisms - to determine a lamb's propensity to produce intra-muscular fat and a loin muscle with a low shear force.

Both measures, following extensive local research at Western Australia's Murdoch University and the Sheep Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), are critical indicators of a lamb's eating quality.

Last week the Sheep CRC released details of these quality traits along with four other lamb carcass traits that can be identified with DNA SNP analysis.

The other traits were for lean meat yields, carcass weight, eye muscle and fat depths.

Sheep CRC chief executive Dr James Rowe said the analyses were still in the research phase though there was already one year of on-farm testing with another season of pilot trials scheduled for this year.

While the carcass weight and eye muscle and fat depth have been measured and reported as Lambplan breeding values for several decades, Dr Rowe said the DNA analysis would improve the accuracy of the traits.

"But the beauty of the DNA analysis for the lean meat yield, intra-muscular fat and shear force traits was that they were hard-to-measure traits, which, until now, could only be assessed on a processed animal or through extensive consumer evaluation," Dr Rowe said.

He was also confident the release of the carcass traits would be timely to prevent the prime lamb industry damaging its eating quality reputation through any pre-occupation with growth rates and lean meat yield.

Validation of the DNA analysis for carcass traits is part of the Sheep CRC seven-year Information Nucleus program, where the progeny of research flocks of Merino, and terminal and maternal breeds have been extensively evaluated and analysed for an exhaustive array of wool, carcass, growth and animal health traits.

The release of the carcass traits last week followed the release earlier this year of several wool traits.

Dr Rowe envisaged that once the DNA SNP analysis was commercially available, stud breeders would be paying between $50-$100 for a once-off analysis of traits.

Dr Rowe said the analyses would be combined and reported with the existing sheep breeding values, currently administered by Sheep Genetics.   



Jandowae Company Reaches Worldwide

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 Jandowae is the new home for an Australian company which markets its product around the world.

Aleis Pty Ltd provided an electronic product which could help producers monitor the performance of individual animals during their entire production cycle. Wambo Council Mayor Cr Mick Cosgrove said they were thrilled to have an industry in Jandowae with such relevance to Queensland and Australia alike.

"It is a marvellous boost for the town to have industry coming into it like this - it was what we have dreamed of getting," Cr Cosgrove said.

Aleis Pty Ltd Director, John Finlayson, said the company could gain many things from operating in a place like Jandowae. "We wanted to set-up our own buildings to manufacture our product and wanted to be in the area where we market our product," Mr. Finlayson said.

"People are keen and there has been a lot of co-operation with the Wambo Shire Council as opposed to the cities where they put obstacles in the road," Mr Finlayson said.  The factory was being built, then two offices, and perhaps a third building which, in total, could employ as many as 25 people at the company. The situation in the long term makes it more competitive and then there is the general atmosphere in the country town where people are that much more friendly and work better," he said.

Wambo Shire Council chief executive officer Cohn O'Connor said the company's importance would only grow with the introduction of the National Livestock Identification scheme. "Other industries will sit up and take notice," Mr O'Connor said. "It is a well established business which says to the world we can operate from a country town.  It says to other companies that there is no reason why a company cannot operate efficiently from Jandowae," he said.

Wambo Shire Councillor Tom Bradley said council's aim was to make it as easy as possible for the company to move to Jandowae and said there would be significant economic benefits as a result.




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