The Information Nucleus flock (INF) is the central focus of the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for Sheep Industry Innovation. It is made up of eight sheep flocks across Australia that are genetically linked by the use of common sires. The objective of the INF is to measure a range of biological and production parameters and to produce heritability estimates and genetic correlations for a range of new traits. Approximately 100 sires are mated annually by artificial insemination to 5,000 ewes across the sites. Sires from various breeds are joined to Merino and crossbred ewes. Each year 2,000 progeny are evaluated for a wide range of meat production and consumer-relevant traits. Some of these traits are new and novel, such as the content of iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Their measurement is designed to ensure lamb maintains its marketing edge as a healthy, nutritious meat so that it is the consumer's preferred choice of meat. This paper will provide an overview of the program and highlight specific areas that are novel with respect to sheep meat.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 69, Christchurch, 96-100, 2009
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