Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics launched nProve last month – a new tool that makes it easier for farmers to find the best rams for their farming operation. We talk to Sarah Powdrell, Sheep Genetics Operations Specialist at B+LNZ Genetics, about the tool and what it can do for commercial farmers.
What is nProve?
Unlike the existing SIL tools, which are primarily for ram breeders, nProve is for both breeders and commercial farmers. It is an on-line tool that helps farmers identify breeders making progress in traits important to them. Using a series of buttons and slider scales you can refine exactly what you need from your ram team. The end result is a list of breeders whose rams tick those same boxes.
Where does nProve source its information?
Our breeders are constantly taking real-world observations and measurements of their animals across a wide range of traits. All of this information feeds into New Zealand’s world-leading genetic engine in SIL. nProve taps directly into this information, so you are presented with transparent objective results.
How does a farmer make best use of nProve?
It’s been a few weeks since our launch and I’ve worked alongside several commercial farmers now, watching them use nProve for the first time. It’s very satisfying to see how quickly they “get it”. nProve is free and there is no need to register. Once you get started, you’ll find yourself wanting to have more of a play – tinkering with the sliders to prioritise different traits and experimenting to see which breeders come up for you.
What feedback are you getting from farmers?
I recently spoke with a farmer who was re-evaluating his genetic priorities, but wasn’t sure where to start. He’d tried other tools in the past but had become confused. I gave him a call and we talked through his current situation and what he was looking to improve. Then, using nProve, we looked at his priority traits, location, breed preferences, etc. The farmer was chuffed. It was exactly what he didn’t know he’d been looking for. Interestingly, the farmer appreciated the anonymity of the tool – looking at other breeders that might work for his operation, without offending his current breeder.
Will nProve show me which ram to buy?
No. nProve will show you the breeders who sell rams that match what you’re looking for.
The breeder is best placed to understand your needs and match you to animals that are fit for your purpose. Take the time to discuss your operating environment, challenges and objectives so they can help you achieve progress in the areas you want.
Does nProve replace New Zealand Maternal and Terminal Worth?
No. These are important indexes which are used within nProve to help you identify good all-round maternal or terminal performers. The beauty of nProve is that you can customise traits specific for you and your operation. The tag line says it all: “Discover genetics fit for your purpose.”
nProve: 5 tips to get started
1. Think about your goals. Where are you now? Where do you want to be?
a) Improve pregnancy scanning percentage.
b) Keep ewe weights modest.
c) Increase parasite resistance.
2. Go to nprove.nz. With your goals in mind, prioritise the traits that will help you achieve those goals.
3. Don’t be too greedy.
Try and limit the number of sliders you adjust to, say, three. And don’t zoom the sliders straight to the top – or you may exclude some very good animals/breeders.
4. Don’t stop there. Have a play.
You can narrow down your selection by exploring the range of other buttons which cover region, breed, sex, and birth year. This gives you a feel for the tool and how it can serve up exactly what you want.
5. Shortlist breeders.
As you play with the tool, flag breeders of interest to create your own shortlist. When you’re ready to make contact with a breeder, their details are easily found by clicking the “More Info” button.
Find out more
Want to know more about ram selection? Check out our Better Sheep Breeding book (PDF, 2.77MB) for more information.