A Covid-19 update from B+LNZ Genetics

The information below provides an update on activities at B+LNZ Genetics in response to Covid-19 restrictions.
Thursday, 2 April 2020

Key points

  • SIL/nProve operations continue as normal.
  • The Sheep Breeder Forum and Low Input Progeny Test Field Day are cancelled.
  • Beef Progeny Test: Pregnancy scanning has been completed at two of the sites. Scanning at the final progeny test property remains planned for mid-April.
  • Sheep Progeny Test: The AI programme at some sites cannot go ahead. Natural mating is being planned as an alternative.
  • Carcass measurements: Some carcass data hasn’t been collected for cohort 2019 in the Sheep Progeny Test, due to restrictions at processing plants.
  • SIL/nProve services

SIL operations and the development of the genetics tool nProve continue as normal. Preparations were put in place prior to the lockdown to allow the team to access and manage the required infrastructure to keep SIL/nProve functioning during this period.

Events

The Sheep Breeder Forum and Low Input Progeny Test Field Day have been cancelled. We are exploring other ways to deliver the content planned for these events: such as social media; potential delivery of a ‘virtual forum’; webinars; and emails.

Beef Progeny Test

With mating completed at all sites and pregnancy scanning carried out at 2 of the 3 sites, the Beef Progeny Test programme has been relatively unaffected. As pregnancy scanning is deemed an essential service due to animal welfare requirements, it is still scheduled to happen.

The Dairy-Beef Progeny Test is continuing as planned. A report on performance at calving up to weaning for 2019-born calves (Cohort 4) is being finalised and will be shared in early April.

Sheep Progeny Test

The Sheep Progeny Test is a long-standing and critical component of New Zealand’s sheep genetics system. Traditionally, it involves over 100 rams across a combination of research and commercial properties.
The mating programme, which uses artificial insemination (AI) has been under review in response to the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown. Although AI is classed as an essential service by commercial providers, AI for the purposes of research is not considered essential during the lockdown period.

After much discussion, it has been confirmed that the AI programme will go ahead on the commercial farm at Glenside, as well as a smaller AI programme at the Low Input site in Geraldine, with remaining ewes to be mated naturally. The Invermay research site and the South Island Genomic Calibration (SIGC) site will use a natural mating programme instead.

Carcass measurements affected for Cohort 2019

Only some of the Sheep Progeny Test sites have been able to collect carcass data for 2019-born progeny due to restrictions faced by processing plants during the lockdown period. The Low Input site is due to be collected in late May and could still be affected by lockdown restrictions.

This is an evolving situation. B+LNZ Genetics will be constantly reviewing its programme and keeping our community of breeders, service providers and research partners updated.

Find out more

If you have any questions or concerns you can email us at info@blnzgenetics.com