Shedding Project 2022 to 2024 joint research with MLA and Cashmore Nudies

For this project we are recording all lamb DNA for 3 years, and comparing shedding scores within and between families. We hope to better understand how the genes contribute to shedding, and how heritable the shedding traits are.

The aim is to learn more about shedding, so that we can introduce the superior lamb producing genes of the maternal composites to our Nudie flock, without introducing too much wool.

The research will also assist other specialist lamb producers (with low value wool) to breed the wool off, if they choose to.

The following are the traits we are recording and comparing in this project:

  • Shedding score; 4 scores taken during the shedding season (August to February)
    This informs us when they shed and how much wool they are left with at the end of the season.
  • Crutch shedding; 4 scores taken during the shedding season (August to February)
    Some sheep shed their crutch area earlier than the rest of their body. We see this as a valuable trait when crossing with woolly sheep as it potentially eliminates crutching after the first cross.
  • Shedding pattern; 4 scores taken during the shedding season (August to February)
    Shedding seems to start from a variety of different places, i.e. neck down, belly up, crutch first, etc. We have recorded this to see if there is anything to be learned (we have only recorded this for the first year).
  • Staple length; one measurement in August before shedding starts.
    This gives us an indication of how much wool they grow per year.
  • Birth coat; the lamb is scored at birth.
    As we select for less wool, we do not want our lambs born without a good birth coat.

All of our normal production traits and historic data will be added to this project to enhance selection with the help of genomics.

MLA Resource Flock: Satellite flocks for reproduction traits of Maternal Composites:

We have contributed to MLA’s Repro Satellite Flock project for 2020 and 2021 drop ewe lambs.

This requires DNA samples from all ewe lambs in both the 2020 drop (386 individual sheep) and the 2021 drop (351 individual sheep). All reproduction data is collected from two lambing’s – no ewes are culled until after the second mating to ensure dry ewes are still contributing to the data. This will add to the genomic database and strengthen our selection decisions going forward.