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Genetics of reproduction and lamb survival.
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improving reproductive rates.

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Many sheep producers are working on strategies to improve their reproductive rates.  Nutrition and management interventions have yielded great results for many producers. In some operations, responses to these improvements have been lower than expected.  Consistently these producers share a genotype that has been selected for traits other than reproduction and survival.  The Merino Lifetime Productivity trial currently underway has demonstrated massive differences in reproductive performance between the daughters of industry sires.  Despite these obvious differences and producer sentiment suggesting they want to improve reproductive performance and lamb survival, the industry uptake of genetic tools to improve reproduction (NLWASBVs) have been poor (estimated less than 10% of ram buyers utilising this information when purchasing rams). With the advent of new reproduction ASBVs to help inform producers when buying rams, there is a renewed opportunity to demonstrate the role that genetics can play to augment nutritional and management strategies to improve ewe reproductive performance.  

There is a range of over 60% in the number of lambs weaned breeding value in the Merino analysis and 50% in the maternal analysis of Sheep Genetics. Largely producers are not using this information when selecting rams and many ram breeders are not supplying the information. Genetics is obviously a slower route to an improvement in reproductive performance, but it is permanent and cumulative. The large range in genetic potential provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the difference to Australian sheep farmers.  

This project is establishing 5 demonstration sites that will compare the ewe progeny from the participating producer’s normal ram team with a demonstration ram team that has been purchased using breeding values for reproduction.  This page will be updated with information as it is generated and will feature each of the properties that are involved.  Project information will be provided periodically.  If you would like to receive updates on this project please sign up below.

To find out more please contact Darren Gordon - Call 0408 114 656 or email or MarkFerguson - Call +64 21 496 656 or email

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