This paper discusses the issues confronting Merino breeders in developing selection programs based on raw wool measurements that are aimed at improving wool processing performance and final product quality. Two approaches to predicting the genetic consequences of selection for raw wool measurements on processing performance are shown. The first makes use of existing prediction formulae which have been developed from trials with no genetic structure. This was demonstrated using a formula which predicts hauteur (fibre length in top) as a linear combination of raw wool traits. Genetic relationships between predicted hauteur and these traits were derived and used to predict correlated responses to selection on clean fleece weight and fibre diameter. The results show a reduction (deterioration) in hauteur as the emphasis on fibre diameter increases in the index. The second approach involves direct estimation of the relevant genetic parameters from experiments based on sire processing batches, where batches are formed by pooling fleeces from individual progeny within sire progeny groups. Results are presented from such an experiment based on a fine-wool Merino flock, and show that the relationships expected from the prediction formula approach may not always be appropriate for individual Merino genotypes and production environments. Keywords: Merino, wool, processing performance, selection

I. W Purvis, Andrew A Swan

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 24: Sheep and goats (fibre); sheep and goats (meat and milk); poultry; horses; buffaloes., , 23–30, 1998
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