Breeding to reduce reliance on drenching sheep | Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Breeding to reduce reliance on drenching sheep

Genetic improvement through selection offers one of the best long-term solutions to reducing reliance on drench. But, where do you start?
Monday, 5 December 2016

How will breeding make a difference?

Ultimately, you’re aiming to introduce more “resistant” animals into your flock – that is, sheep that actively fight off infection and have a reduced shedding of eggs. This lowers subsequent larval challenge to all stock.

Finding a breeder

Resistance to internal parasites is measured as low faecal egg counts (FEC). The relevant index is Dual Purpose WormFEC™ (DPF). 
a) Download the FlockFinder App on your smartphone and find breeders recording for WormFEC (41 flocks). Or visit and search “Health Traits”.
b) Ask your short list of breeders for the DPF index figures and genetic trends, in addition to the core production indexes for NZMW (New Zealand Maternal Worth).
c) If you are unsure at any point, ask the breeder to talk you through the figures.

Which breeder matches your operation?

Identify which breeders measuring FEC also measure other “must haves” for your operation. Check their complete set of genetic trend graphs to see that they are making progress in the traits that matter to you.

Choosing a ram

Finding the breeder is half the battle. But even within a flock there can be a lot of variation. Talk to your breeder about the breeding value range you are looking for – and be prepared to pay for it. 

How long until you see progress?

Health traits, such as FEC, are moderately heritable. More importantly, they are very variable between individuals, so you can make relatively rapid progress.

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