DSANA’s Genetic Improvement Program will produce EBVs for North American Dairy Sheep Producers
At the 2017 Symposium in Quebec, DSANA introduced its new Genetic Improvement Program, in which dairy sheep producers can submit their milking data to a Canadian genetic evaluation company, which will then return to each participating producer the genetic evaluations, as EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values), of each individual dairy sheep in their flock. If you were not able to attend the Quebec symposium, and would like to see the presented background information on the Genetic Improvement Project, we have 4 PDF files that you can access: Project Proposal (English), Project Proposal (French), and basic Tier Once participation (English), and basic Tier One participation (French).
As soon as GenOvis begins to receive data in 2018, the first estimated breeding values will be available across Canadian and U.S.A. flocks. This is very exciting in that as our participation increases, so does the reliability of the genetic data we receive back. Participating farms will have access to the tools needed to make data-driven decisions on flock replacements. With sire and dam data being entered, we will be able to link breeding lines also. It will be especially important to have sire pedigrees from flocks that have sold multiple rams across the U.S.A. and Canada. Enrollment of the farms that have progeny from the 2017 Lacaune semen importation project will be vital in helping us to identify superior ewes and rams in the U.S. dairy flock.
GenOvis enrollment and data input details are being worked out for U.S.A. participants. Enrollments for Canadian members are already in place. GenOvis has a user-friendly system in place for receiving and analyzing sheep dairy data. There will be online support available to everyone just starting up.
Genetic Improvement Program Update, as of June 2018:
The Genetics Improvement project is moving forward, slowly but surely. There are many components and layers to creating a milk production and breeding stock evaluation program that will generate reliable data and information. For example, we need uniform ways of identifying animals, animal breeds, protocols for collecting milk samples and gathering milk weights, finding a certified laboratory that will provide uniform analysis, as well as other items.
Five pilot farms have been identified to provide Tier Two information for the 2018 milking season. By doing a pilot project, we hope to streamline the paperwork, solidify our relationships with the DHIA laboratory, and create a baseline determining estimated breeding values. The five pilot farms are Green Dirt Farm (Eliza Spertus, MO), Lark’s Meadow Farm (Kendall Russell, ID), Bellwether Farms (Liam Callahan, CA), Meadowood Farms (Bee Tolman and Quincy Wool, NY); and Tin Willows Farm (Terry Felda, OR).
As the pilot farm enrollment moves forward, we will begin to open enrollments for Tier One participation. Enrollment in the genetics improvement project will be limited to DSANA active members. This project is being funded in large part through a National Sheep Industry Improvement Center grant.
The chart below outlines the expectations of each of the tiers.
Genetics Improvement Committee members welcome your comments and suggestions: Tom Clark (NY) – chair; Axel Meister (ON), Bill Halligan (HE), Liam Callahan (CA), Mariana Marques De Almeida (WI), Bee Tolman (NY), and Tommy Lavoie (QC). Laurel Kieffer, project manager (firstname.lastname@example.org).