Meat yield was ranked as the top trait in the traits prioritisation process. It also ranked as the top trait with regards to the economic benefits gained by a 10% improvement in the trait. Meat yield is seen as an important trait as it influences the proportion of saleable meat on a carcass. The traits prioritisation process calculated the benefits of meat yield by increasing the average carcass yield by 10%. This calculation estimated the benefit to industry to be approximately $160 million/annum.
The ongoing research aim is to identify and develop new phenotype resources, identify genetic markers and develop genomic breeding values (GBVs) for meat yield.
Existing resources include the Rissington Breedline, Carwell, Alliance Viascan yield extreme, central progeny test (CPT) and Woodland-Coopworth progeny test animals.
A total of 1906 animals, including 1438 from the Alliance ViaScan yield extreme resources and 458 Rissington Breedline Primera progeny test sires, have been recently genotyped on the 50K sheep SNP chip. The aim is to identify genetic markers for meat yield in maternal as well as terminal sire breeds and to develop GBVs.
In addition to this research, novel SNPs which are significantly associated with meat yield have been identified through sequencing. These SNPs will be investigated further.
Genomic breeding values have been developed and commercially released for meat yield in 2011 (based on ultrasound data).
How can you help?
To generate GBVs we need sire DNA from Romney, Perendale, Coopworth, Texel, Dorset and Composite breeds and terminal sire SIL flocks with ultrasound and particularly post-slaughter meat yield data recorded on their progeny. Any breeders interested in contributing please contact John McEwan firstname.lastname@example.org or Lucie Archer email@example.com.
AgResearch had previously identified two markers associated with improved lean meat yield in Poll Dorset and Texel breeds. These were further developed with Ovita investment and are now offered as genetic tests through Pfizer Animal Genetics - MyoMAX and LoinMAX. MyoMAX is a genetic test for a gene which influences both carcass weight and muscle yield on the leg and rump, more information on this test can be found here. LoinMAX is a genetic test for loin muscle size. Sheep with the LoinMAX gene have 10% more loin muscle than sheep without it. Learn more about the LoinMAX test here.