Parasites have been estimated to cost NZ about $300 million a year, of which ~$50 million is spent of anthelmintics (Beef + Lamb NZ Research and development brief no. 67 - available here). Parasites was rated as the fourth most important trait in the Ovita Traits Prioritisation process. It is estimated that a 10% reduction in the effects of parasites would benefit the industry by ~$35 million every year.
AgResearch has thousands of faecal egg count (FEC) records for Romney, Perendale and Coopworth breeds. There are also thousands of sires which have been genotyped with the 50K SNP chip and who have progeny with FEC records. This number increases by about 500 sires a year. Breeds have been linked via the Beef+LambNZ Central Progeny Test and an Ovita Progeny Test flock.
Genomic breeding values for parasites were released in 2010 for the Romney, Perendale and Coopworth breeds.
How can you help?
We need to continue to increase numbers in Romney, Perendale and Coopworth breeds and especially need sire DNA from Texel and Composite breeds recording this trait to produce parasite GBVs for these breeds. Any breeders interested in contributing please contact John McEwan firstname.lastname@example.org or Lucie Archer (email@example.com).
AgResearch developed the WormStar genetic test, which is now offered by Pfizer Animal Genetics. This test identifies animals which are more resistant to parasites and shed fewer eggs than non-resistant sheep. In addition to increased parasite resistance, these sheep also have higher meat yield. For more information on this please visit Pfizer Animal Genetics.