Investigation of the Environment Sensitivity of Merino Sheep ASBVs for Various Traits.

Waters, Dominic
University of New England


The following is a summary submitted with the application. It will be updated when the student’s abstract/thesis is received.

Currently, ASBVs for sheep account for sire by flock interaction but there is limited insight how breeding values differ in physically different environments. It has long been suspected that EBVs for certain traits are sensitive to the environment in which they are calculated, and this could make comparisons of EBVs from different regions inaccurate. Insight in this phenomenon is becoming increasingly important with climate change and increases in extreme weather events. Therefore, my project will investigate the environment sensitivity of merino sheep ASBVs for various traits. This analysis will incorporate genomic information and the latest statistical techniques. Application of this information to aid breeding programs will also be explored.

It is expected that EBVs for certain traits in sheep will be sensitive to different environments. This information will be used in future genetic evaluation systems to improve selction decisions and genetic progress. It will also be used to better inform breeders and commercial producers when selecting rams for traits that are sensitive to environment and information can be gained about genetic variation between rams in sensitivity to environment.