1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
In a range sheep production environment, evaluate different biological types of sheep for reproductive efficiency, rate and efficiency of growth, carcass composition, meat quality, and mature size. Use quantitative genetic methods to identify physical and physiological criteria for enhancing reproductive efficiency and other economically important traits, including meat quality, quantity, and flavor.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Reproductive efficiency, rate and efficiency of growth, carcass composition, meat quality, and mature size will be evaluated for different biological types of sheep in a range sheep production environment. New genetic information gained from these evaluations on traits affecting production efficiency, and the relationship of the traits to growth and carcass characteristics, will be used to develop new composite terminal sire lines. These sire lines will be used with appropriate maternal lines to meet target market specifications for commercial lambs and produce more desirable end products that meet consumer demands, without sacrificing reproductive efficiency.
3. Progress Report:
The goal of this agreement was to use quantitative genetic methods to identify physical and physiological criteria for enhancing reproductive efficiency and other economically important traits. U.S. Sheep Experiment Station scientists and their collaborator at Virginia Tech University analyzed a portion of the data collected during a 3-year study to characterize Columbia-, MARCIII-, Suffolk-, and Texel-sired F1 lambs for traits of survival, growth, feed efficiency, carcass composition, and meat quality. Results will be used in FY2014 to develop new composite sheep lines that are more suitable for rangeland environments. This collaboration supports Objective 2 of the parent project, which is focused on improving maternal and paternal genetic lines of sheep to best match western rangeland environments.