White Suffolks continue to lead the way in terminal breeds for weaning weights and eating quality, according to the latest data from Lambplan.
A total of 191 White Suffolk flocks across Australia are performance recorded on Lambplan, with 844,474 White Suffolk sheep on the database.
Lambplan development officer Clara Collison, Sheep Genetics Meat & Livestock Australia, Armidale, NSW, said White Suffolks comprised 30 per cent of all terminal animals in the analysis which was a huge proportion of the analysis and of the White Suffolk breed being performance recorded.
“Eating quality is directly driven by recording using genotyping and in 2016, 38 per cent of the genotypes were recorded by White Suffolk breeders,” Ms Collison said.
“When it comes to carcase traits, the White Suffolk breed is averaging plus nine kilograms for weaning weight, trending above the rest of the analysis for all terminal breeds.”
Post weaning weight stands at an average of plus 14kg or 1.5kg heavier than the rest of the terminal analysis and the breed continues to push eye muscle depth as muscling increases.
“It is good to see the White Suffolk breed sitting above the pack for weight traits and improving muscling at the same time. The challenge now is to balance leanness and muscling with eating quality and reproduction.”
She said the eating quality traits of intramuscular fat (IMF), shear force and lean meat yield followed the trends for all other terminal breeds.
“Selecting for eating quality in lamb is not about putting so much selection on IMF that we have Wagyu lambs, but to ensure we maintain the quality of the product people are prepared to pay for.”
The White Suffolk breed has also made good gains on the eating quality index for growth and weight traits.
“There is an increased trend for White Suffolks for lean meat yield and intramuscular fat than the rest of the analysis.
“White Suffolks are sitting below the analysis for shear force which is good to see.
“In terms of the eating quality index, White Suffolks are trending above the rest of the analysis due to the shift in breeding objectives to focus on the new index.”
Ms Collison said one of the major advancements Sheep Genetics made during 2017 was the implementation of the single step analysis.
“If you don’t have a problem getting ewes in lamb but do have a problem getting them to survive, you can select for that independently giving flexibility to target the area of reproduction affecting your flock.”
A Sheep Genetics ‘Ramping Up Genetic Gain’ project will also help producers make selection decisions targeted at genetic progress.