July 13, 2007
July 13, 2007 - Breeding the right sheep, whether it?s for improved wool, more muscle, increased fertility or a better ability to cope with parasites, has been one of the world-wide sheep industry?s greatest challenges. Now, with the release of a physical DNA map by the International Sheep Genomics Consortium of more than 98 percent of the sheep genome, scientists will be better able to pin-point the genetic controls for these economically important production traits.
This information can assist producers in developing a product that better meets the customer?s demands in terms of meat and wool production. In addition, genes that control gastrointestinal diseases and reproduction traits can be identified. This map is a tool that increases the efficiency in searching for those genetic components that are valuable to the sheep producer.
One such group taking advantage of this research is the United Kingdom?s (UK) Suffolk sheep breeders. They will become some of the first in the UK to benefit from gene markers for footrot tolerance and cold survival.
Selecting for footrot tolerance will reduce the time and money spent controlling and treating footrot. The cold-survival gene marker will identify sheep with vigor and those with the ability to thrive from birth
Suffolk Sheep Society commercial director, Robyn Hulme, said it was important for the breed to be at the forefront of such developments and ensure commercial ram buyers were given the chance to buy rams best equipped for their situations.
The Tri-Lamb Group, which consists of sheep-producer member organizations from the United States, Australia and New Zealand also recognize the significance of this research. The group has ranked functional sheep genomics as its number one research priority. Staff contact: Paul Rodgers