What can we glean from commercial flock data recording? – Eamon Wall, Sheep Ireland & OviData

What can we glean from commercial flock data recording? – Eamon Wall, Sheep Ireland & OviData

Eamon Wall of Sheep Ireland spoke about commercial data recording at the ICBF & Sheep Ireland Genetics Conference which took place Friday 17th of January 2020 in the Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Co. Laois.

To view Eamon’s Presentation click here

Eamon’s take home messages were:

  • Commercial farm data now makes up over 50% of all data contributing to Irelands €uroStar sheep indexes annually
  • Sources of commercial data include; Sheep Ireland’s Central Progeny Test, Teagasc Research and Demonstration farms, independent commercial farms and a new Agri-EIP project called OviData
  • OviData is using the latest DNA genomic technology to assign extremely accurate full parentage to lambs after birth. Known parentage allows the data to be used in genetic evaluations, thus unlocking the full potential of the data on participating farms for the benefit of the farmers involved.

Commercial data now makes up over 50% of all data contributing to Irelands sheep genetic improvement programme and in turn the €uroStars available to Irish sheep farmers when purchasing rams. In order to boost the accuracy of the €uroStar evaluations, commercial data is crucial to build on the pedigree data being contributed by pedigree ram breeders. Commercial data sources currently consist of; Sheep Irelands Central Progeny Test, Teagasc research flocks, Teagasc Better farm (demonstration) flocks and a small number of independent commercial flocks around Ireland. Commercial data is also being sourced from a new Agri-EIP (European Innovation Partnership) project called OviData. This new project used DNA technology to assign parentage to lambs, thus making all data collected on participating farms available to Ireland genetic improvement programme, for the benefit of all farmers. The DNA technology being used now is extremely accurate and reliable. Eamon spoke about how Sheep Ireland used older DNA technology (micro satellites) in the MALP project a number of years ago to attempt to assign parentage to lambs. This technology looked at 14 SNPs (locations on an animals DNA) to try match lambs to their parents. Given the close genetic relationships that exist on sheep farms, this technology was not accurate enough. The current technology being used by OviData looks at 760 SNPs, as a result it can find a lambs parents with far greater accuracy than previous technologies (micro satellites). One of the more interesting findings so far in OviData has been the number of multiple litters identified as being sired by different rams – 28% of multiple litters across OviData were sired by more than one ram.

 To view all other presentations from the event click here.

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