Sheep5K is a genomic selection tool. Genomics uses many DNA markers (in this case 5,000) to derive breeding values. Breeding values from a genomic tool are called molecular breeding values (mBVs). Taking the molecular breeding values (mbv’s) and blending them with the ebv’s and pedigree info available, we get a powerful over view of how a young ram hogget or 2 tooth will breed for up to 22 traits.

Performance recording is key to improving traits in a flock, however estimated breeding values (eBVs) from SIL can be unreliable for selecting young animals such as ram hogget’s, and also two-tooths. A ram hogget can have very little performance recording information of its own and it has no direct progeny. Therefore its traditional SIL estimated breeding values can change significantly over time, especially as the performance of direct progeny are also recorded, contributing to its evaluation.

Genomic tools such as Sheep5K add significant accuracy to breeding values of young rams, comparable to having direct progeny already on the ground, as shown below:

These comparisons are a great way for commercial clients to see the benefits of genomics by identifying rams that will drive faster gains.

One of the really interesting parts of the 5 k test for us as breeders is the % rank system developed to compare the rams tested with all other maternal breed rams tested in the 5 k evaluation.

These are rams from leading SIL recorded Romney, Coopworth, Perendale, and Composite flocks and give us valuable information on how our sheep compare nationally for traits that in some cases we are not measuring. For example we don’t Ramguard test rams for FE resistance, the percentage rank  for rams tested in 2014 showed that on average Pahiwi 2 tooths ranked in the top 41%  for FE  out of all rams in the 5 k evaluation from over 130 flocks. This indicates good levels of genetic merit in our flock for FE tolerance.