FOR just $50 Merino breeders can get a preview of their ram's genetic worth before lambs hit the ground.
Australian National Merino Sire Evaluation Association chairman Tom Silcock said the Sheep Co-operative Research Centre had committed to subsidising the genotyping of all 2013 sire evaluation trial sires at a cost to breeders of $50. It is a special deal being offered nationally.
Mr Silcock said the first 19 appropriate sires entered in the 2013 Elders Balmoral sire evaluation trial would be eligible for the discounted $50 deal; the rest will go on a waiting list.
"The local studs will take up a fair whack of the spots, so it will fill up relatively quickly, I think," he said.
Mr Silcock said the testing of a DNA sample from each of the sires would give their breeders a genomic-enhanced research breeding value, as well as a predictive poll-horn breeding value, before any progeny were born.
"People participating in this will be part of road-testing genomics and proofing the concept of predicting the future breeding value of rams for specific traits," he said.
Mr Silcock said ewe joining in the Balmoral trial would be in early April after rams had been blood tested for DNA testing and semen was collected.
"We need all of that certainly by the end of February, and in an ideal world I would like to have entries finalised by the end of January," he said.
The 50K SNP testing of the 2013 sires was being subsidised by the Sheep CRC.
"In the past all the rams entered for sire evaluation have donated extra doses of semen for DNA analysis," Mr Silcock said.
The genomic test usually costs about $150.
And it isn't normally available to breeders, unless they are members of Sheep Genetics.
Preference will be given to finer dual-purpose Merino sires for the Balmoral trial, to be run at Wannon in 2013-14.