Sheep research centre seeks continuation of funding

PLANS are being compiled for future sheep industry research priorities as part of an application to the Federal Government to build on achievements of the Sheep CRC and extend the program for another five years.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) began in July 2007 and runs until June 2014. Operating as part of the Federal Department of Industry Innovation Science Research and Tertiary Education's CRC program, the Sheep CRC is a collaboration of industry, government and the commercial sector.

Its purpose has been to increase productivity and profitability of the industry through new technologies for adoption by both the meat and wool supply chains.

More than 15 organisations and industry groups are working together on the Sheep CRC extension application, with detailed planning underway to determine the resources required to deliver the research and adoption goals for the next phase of industry-focused investment.

Sheep CRC chief executive Professor James Rowe said there had been a strong show of industry support for the five-year extension application of the Sheep CRC.

Preparation of the extension application is being supervised by a steering committee representing producer groups, industry stakeholders and research organisations. The process of consultation and planning has identified the following broad research goals which build on information obtained from the current industry-run resource flocks:

  • To develop new risk management information and automated animal monitoring to underpin animal well-being which will assist pro-active management decisions, reduce on-farm sheep mortality and cut the cost of flock monitoring;
  • To develop a cuts-based MSA grading system to provide more market options for sheep meat, particularly yearling Merinos, in order to achieve better alignment of our products with customer demands and appropriate rewards for producers investing in superior genetics for eating quality traits; and
  • To take the new DNA-based genetic selection technology to the next level in terms of cost-effectiveness; accuracy and ease of use in order to accelerate genetic gain and improve the quality and productivity of the national flock.

Prof. Rowe stressed that strong financial support from the sheep industry was essential for a competitive CRC application and preliminary funding proposals have been submitted for consideration by the major industry bodies Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), the Australian Meat Processing Corporation (AMPC) and Australian Wool Innovation (AWI).

The draft extension application will be reviewed by potential participants, industry leaders and researchers later in March before final refinement and formal commitment to the proposal from all parties. The application will be submitted in June and the result known by December 2013.

"Without an extension the Sheep CRC will wind up operations in June 2014, with many outcomes delivered but with some big opportunities in front of us that will be very difficult to capture in the absence of the over-arching coordination that a CRC provides to tackle large-scale national research priorities," Prof Rowe said.

  • More information on ASBVs and genomic research breeding values is available from the Sheep CRC website,

Topics:  agricultural research livestock sheep

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