Progeny Tests

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A progeny test is used to benchmark the performance of a ram by comparing how his progeny perform under the same environmental conditions relative to progeny from other rams. In this way, rams can be compared across different flocks through as these reference sires create genetic connections between flocks.

Running a progeny test at one location – a “central progeny test” (CPT) – facilitates comparisons of rams that would not normally be made in industry. It is also an opportunity to use provide a practical resource for genetic research development.

The linkages created by the B+LNZ Genetics CPT underpin NZGE – the weekly large-scale across-flock and across-breed evaluation.

A progeny test is used to benchmark the performance of a ram by comparing how his progeny perform under the same environmental conditions relative to progeny from other rams. In this way, rams can be compared across different flocks through as these reference sires create genetic connections between flocks.

Running a progeny test at one location – a “central progeny test” (CPT) – facilitates comparisons of rams that would not normally be made in industry. It is also an opportunity to use provide a practical resource for genetic research development.

The linkages created by the B+LNZ Genetics CPT underpin NZGE – the weekly large-scale across-flock and across-breed evaluation.

Recent changes to the Central Progeny Test

More rams, younger age, more commercially relevant environments and partnership with industry. 

B+LNZ Genetics are responding with bold initiatives in answer to a constructive review of its sheep CPT programme.  No longer restricted to the realm of the research, performance recording has come of an age where it is practical to carry out on commercial farms.  Electronic equipment and genomic parentage tools are more reliable and more intuitive to use meaning quality progeny test measurements can be achieved on commercial farms. 

To accommodate these changes B+LNZ Genetics has chosen to exit two of its lowland sites (Ashley Dene and Poukawa), with only one retained but relocated closer to researchers in Dunedin (Woodlands shifted to Invermay).   This has made room for the addition of three next generation partnerships which have been established by mating 2016 (Progressive Meats Ltd, Farm IQ, Smedley Station). 

Breeders have an opportunity to submit unproven rams for progeny testing with results received via SIL data evaluations.  Commercial farmers can have confidence in the results knowing rams have been tested in truly challenging environments.  

B+LNZ Genetics plans to run field days highlighting activity and understanding genetic merit alongside these new sites.  SIL estimates of genetic merit will be enhanced by having more young rams benchmarked in commercially relevant conditions and improved number of progeny at an early age for these young rams.  Plus rams of high genetic merit will be identified in time to be used more widely while they are still alive. 

This is not to throw cold water on the significant and highly valued achievements to the CPT programme that has been run to date.  In fact, the spring board that the previous programme has provided allows for this evolution in assessing genetic merit to be possible and the contribution of Ashley Dene, Poukawa and Woodlands CPT sites to the sheep industry should be applauded and will forever by a valued part of our history.

Breed versus ram comparison

The CPT was not set up as a “breed comparison”, but rather as a “ram comparison”. It has focused on what are considered to be better genetics. Breed comparisons require testing of many sires per breed, selected at random from within each breed, and with fewer progeny per sire. The CPT has used a small number of sires with more progeny per sire, from as many breeds as possible to improve genetic linkage within the New Zealand Sheep Industry.

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