A major breakthrough in the FeetFirst project has provided ram breeders with a new tool to predict an animal’s genetic resistance to footrot. It differs from previous tests in that it uses information from across the whole genome, rather than a single gene. It builds on estimated breeding value (EBV) technology, combining phenotypic and genomic information into a single breeding value for footrot resistance.
The EBV is generated using phenotypic information collected from the fine-wool central progeny test (CPT) and individual studs that challenge their rams with footrot, as well as genomic data from DNA samples.
The technology is still in its early days and it will take time for large numbers of footrot-resistant rams to become widely available. However, this development is hugely exciting for New Zealand's fine-wool industry and marks an important milestone for the New Zealand Sheep Industry Transformation Project (NZSTX). NZM's development of the breeding value for footrot has been made possible by strong support from NZM growers, Merino New Zealand Incorporated (Merino Inc.) and the Ministry for Primary Industries' Primary Growth Partnership.
Click on the links below for media coverage of the footrot breeding value -
- RNZ - Midday Rural News
- Stuff.co.nz - Crippling footrot could become malady of the past for merinos
The story also featured on One News' Midday, 6pm and Breakfast bulletins (22-23 June 2017).
For more information about the breeding value for footrot resistance in fine-wool sheep, click here.