Wairarapa Romneys – numbers backed by data

Published: Wed 7 Oct 2015 09:09 AM
Wairarapa Romneys – numbers backed by data
Over 40 years of innovative genetic progress and one of the largest recorded breeding databases in New Zealand gives the Wairarapa Romney Improvement Group (WRIG) the edge.
WRIG has nine market-leading breeder members, including some of the pioneers of the industry, with vast experience in breeding quality Romney sheep that stand the test of commercial use.
The collective strength of the group is its size and connectedness, resulting in a significant contribution to the advancement of science over time.
As a group we have 32,000 females recorded, including ewe hogget replacements, and excellent linkage across flocks. This, coupled with robust recording systems, enables accurate genetic assessment.
Our size and connectedness has made WRIG an attractive resource for anyone wanting to analyse performance or pedigrees.
Over the years the science community has used WRIG information to address various issues relating to genetic improvement.
We have been heavily involved in the development of robust recording systems – from the National Flock Recording Scheme through to SIL – focusing on the number of lambs born as well as key indicators like survival, growth rate and fleece weights.
WRIG data has also been utilised in research into parasite resistance.
All group members have donated blood to Ovita and the group was used to verify the use of DNA markers to generate molecular breeding values for productive traits. Initially this was done through Ovita and the project has since been commercialised by Zoetis as Sheep5K.
Sheep5K uses 5000 DNA markers to generate molecular breeding values for up to 22 economically important traits. Independently, it is an excellent tool for gaining extra accurate information on young selection candidates. Combined with SIL information, Sheep5K enables unprecedented selection opportunities.
WRIGs linkage across our flocks gives robustness and accuracy to the high number of recorded animals.
“The validity of those figures is so good because of the connectedness of the group. We have 32,000 females with all data collected, independently verified by SIL and also verified by the connectedness of the group,” WRIG chairman Roger Barton says.
“With ram exchanges between members we know the group members are accessing the best genetics we can offer.”
But it’s not just about the figures, WRIG is strong on the physical factors – feet, the way an animal stands, the jaw set, teat placement.
WRIG delivers the complete package, pooling top genetics, alongside physical appearance, backed up by scientific evidence to deliver the meat value and growth rates farmers are looking for.
We have the numbers backed by data, and data backed by numbers.

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