How To Nail Sheep Genetics Submission Time And Avoid Overwhelm
It is clear that ASBV’s (Australian Sheep Breeding Values) are starting to gain the momentum they deserve in the sheep industry. Those that have been using ASBV’s effectively for some time are truly leading the industry and the ability for ASBV’s to assist you to drive performance in your flock (and your clients flocks) is clear.
Consistently using the best genetics is like compound interest but for sheep! Einstein said that compound interest was the 8th wonder of the World due to its power and ability to deliver you ever increasing benefits over time. Consistently selecting and breeding from the best genetics available to you (sourced either on farm or off farm) is the way you use compounding in your sheep flock and a proven path to a more profitable sheep enterprise. It’s the free kick from consistently making good selection decisions and ASBV’s are one of the main tools at your disposal to do this.
For those of you still looking to get started with ASBV’s in your flock, or if you know that you still have some work to do, last week we had the privilege of interviewing long time BreedELITE clients Troy and Nette Fischer from Ashmore White Suffolks about how they are driving the performance of their stud as well as their clients flocks and how ASBV’s have helped them create an amazing White Suffolk stud that is truely industry leading…
Just how amazing are the results you might ask?
Well, 15 of the top 20 performing White Suffolk terminal sires in Australia on the TCP (Terminal Carcase Production) index in the 2020 drop are either Ashmore Rams or Ashmore Sired Rams…and that is just 6 years after they were almost completely burnt out by bush fire and basically had to start again. Over the past six years with a focus on careful breeding and a strong focus on collecting accurate measured and visual data that informs their decisions, they truly are an elite stud and consistently turning out results that we should all be envious of.
The clear thing I took from this conversation is that if you equip yourself with the knowledge, commit to the process AND have the right technology to support you, it is possible to achieve outstanding results with ASBV’s and your stud in a very short period of time.
I also felt incredibly privileged that the BreedELITE Sheep System has been riding shotgun over the last six years supporting Ashmore to collect and manage their sheep data turning it into information that supports them to make consistently great decisions. Troy and Nette also explained that since using BreedELITE they have been able to streamline the whole process and are now collecting significantly more data on each animal and their stud is now 2x the size it was before without the need for any extra labour! Well done guys!
So, there is a bit of inspiration to get us all going… Now on to how to nail your next Sheep Genetics submission for your business.
If you are like a lot of sheep farmers I know (particularly if you are submitting data to Sheep Genetics for the first few times) you probably experience some level of anxiety and stress around Sheep Genetics submission times. Pushing hard for the deadline, trying to find all your data and collating it in the right format can feel like being back at school and trying to cram in that last minute assignment before the deadline…
Perhaps you enjoy the rush of it, however if you are like me and prefer things to be a little more laid back in your life, then read on.
A quick disclaimer – submitting data to Sheep Genetics is not a 5 minute job. If you are new to the process we suggest you allow at least 2 hours to work through it. Once you are familiar with what is required you can get that down to as little as 15mins if there are minimal data validation issues (more on how to avoid these later).
First of all we need to deal with a few misconceptions surrounding the Sheep Genetics submission process. Here they are:
1. All my sheep data for a drop needs to go in together in one complete submission (FALSE):
- You can submit data to Sheep Genetics at any stage throughout the year. After you collect data you can include it for submission as soon as you are ready and don’t need to wait until you have all the information for those sheep.
- We recommend that to do your first submission for a group of animals you have the parentage data as a minimum as this gives you the midpoint for the ASBV’s
- After that any measured data you collect adjusts and informs the ASBV’s and their accuracies
- Spreading out the data submissions as you collect information can make dealing with exceptions or exclusions simpler and avoids the need to remember what happened six months ago if there is an issue.
2. My success with ASBV’s relies on me nailing it in one submission that is perfect first time (FALSE):
- Your Sheep Genetics submissions should be viewed as an iterative process that at a minimum involves:
- Collection and collation of data throughout the year and the sheeps lifecycle (simple with the BreedELITE Sheep System)
- Submission to Sheep Genetics for analysis (simple with the BreedELITE Sheep System)
- Review of exceptions and exclusions post analysis (simple with the BreedELITE Sheep System)
- Correction of exceptions and exclusions (simple with the BreedELITE Sheep System)
- Resubmission to Sheep Genetics (ideally in the next fortnight) (simple with the BreedELITE Sheep System)
- Import your results back into BreedELITE
- Sheep Genetics submission completed – Yay : ). Another advantage of doing this more regularly is that your BreedELITE software has the latest data from Sheep Genetics available for your use.
- Being aware of this process and not expecting to get it right first time is the norm, even for people who have been doing this for a long time, so take the pressure off yourself and commit to the steps above.
- Inbuilt data validation rules in the BreedELITE Soware help you catch the majority of issues prior to your first submission which helps you minimise the amount of work post the first submission and streamlines the whole process. If you are having issues at any point please reach out to our team for support. We are here to help.
3. I need to submit my data on the day of the deadline (FALSE):
- Generally the deadlines for Sheep Genetics submission are:
- MERINOSELECT on the 7th and 21st of each month, and;
- LAMBPLAN on the 1st and 15th of each month
- The exception occurs when one of the dates falls on a weekend, then the deadline is the Friday before
- To have your data included in the run you can submit at any stage over the 2 weeks prior to the submission date that you want the analysis to be run on
- In our experience the best results are achieved if you aim to have your data submitted 2 days prior to the submission date
- This allows you time to deal with any issues that arise without risking missing the submission date
4. What the hell are Sheep Genetics groupings?
- Sheep Genetics groupings have the single biggest influence on your ASBV results and are the most miss-understood aspect of the Sheep Genetics submission process.
- This is one of the most common things we see people get wrong and if you are in doubt at any point please reach out to us before you submit (see below how to create a groupings report prior to submission)
- The Sheep Genetics groupings is a combination of the:
- CONTEMPORARY GROUP: Year of Birth, Sex, Birth Group (this should rarely change)
- MANAGEMENT GROUP: Age Stage Management Grouping, Date of Measurement (this can often change)
- Changing any of the component factors will cause a sheep to have a different Sheep Genetics grouping.
- Approximately 70% of the variation in measured performance can be due to environmental effects. With this in mind the purpose of a Sheep Genetics grouping is to ensure that animals that are compared to one another have been similarly and fairly treated throughout their life.
- The key question to answer when deciding on groupings is: Have these animals been treated differently over the period to the point that it is not fair to compare them (including leading up to lambing)?
- As a quick guide. You don’t need to split groupings if the mob was only split for a short period for lambing (e.g. 4-5 weeks) and treated similarly before being joined back together.
- However, if they are managed differently after that point or If the mob is split for any other reason and managed differently they need to be entered as different Sheep Genetics groupings.
- A good way to test this if you are unsure is to look at the averages in the measured traits between the different groups. If there is a significant difference then it is likely that they need to be in a different group.
To simplify the Sheep Genetics submission process to obtain your ASBV’s here are the steps we recommend you take to nail your next Sheep Genetics submission:
1. Submit at least 2 days before the deadline – this allows you time to identify any potential issues early and resolve them before the deadline. If you need help from BreedELITE we are here to help, however if your find this out 2 hours before the deadline there is a high chance you will be at the back of a queue and may miss the run. Some pre planning
2. Before you start, watch these 2 videos in the BreedELITE Members Area (breedelite.com/member-login/)
- VIDEO 1 – (1/2) Sheep Genetics Export – Sending The Correct Sheep To SG
- VIDEO 2 – (2/2) Sheep Genetics Export – Submitting Your Data To SG
- NOTE – You will need to login to the members area to access these videos. If you need help please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Follow the process in each video at least 2 days before the submission deadline
3. Run the inbuilt BreedELITE data validation, this is a pre-check of your data before submission to Sheep Genetics and will pick up the majority (but not all) data errors and exclusions before you submit.
- NOTE – There are a few additional checks that have to be completed by Sheep Genetics, however the majority will be picked up prior to you even submitting.
4. After you submit
- Sheep Genetics provide an analysis results link via email – approximately 7 business days after the submission date
- Look at your import summaries from Sheep Genetics to understand if there is anything that needs to be fixed up for next submission
- Check that data is correct and seems ok
- Look at the exclusions file
- SG has additional data validation that may identify exclusions
- If you have done genomics look at parentage inconsistencies file
- If unsure about what the exclusions mean contact BreedELITE
5. Import the results file back into BreedELITE prior to the next decision you want to make or implement. This will take approximately 20mins the first time you do it and around 10mins when you know what you are doing.
That’s the process using BreedELITE and it’s straight forward because the BreedELITE Sheep Software is doing a whole heap of work for you in the background as you collect data and also as you prepare for your Sheep Genetics submissions. As Sheep Genetics service providers we have developed the software over time to make sure that your data not only goes out in in the best way possible, but the process is also simplified and where possible issues are picked up prior to submission.
Many clients who come to us have been paying data managers to do this for them, but after working through the process above have been able to easily do it themselves without needing to pay someone else, thus eliminating this cost from their business.
Here are a few other handy things the BreedELITE Sheep Software can help you do to save time in obtaining your ASBV’s:
- Every time you collect data into the software:
- We recommend that you run a data validation after you have finished the data collection. This will check against the majority of Sheep Genetics data validation rules and highlight issues allowing you to fix them while the information is fresh in your mind or the sheep are still in the yards.
- After you are happy allocate your sheep genetics groupings at the time of data entry. For example if you weigh sheep over multiple days or take fleece weights over multiple days Sheep Genetics wont compare these in the analysis (the different measurement dates mean they will be in different groups). In BreedEELITE you can allocate the date of measurement which makes sure they are kept together.
- Run a Groupings Report from BreedELITE a week prior to submission:
- BreedELITE will produce a groupings report which gives insight into how data will feed into the Sheep Genetics analysis process and also provide you an ability to fix this ahead of submission where the groupings aren’t as expected.
- If you need to change groupings you may need help from the BreedELITE support team so doing this well in advance of submission will ensure we are able to help you.
- Assistance from BreedELITE with managing your Sheep Genetics submission is FREE: as part of your annual software subscription support through the process as well as any training you need to accurately collect and enter data in the correct format is available to you.
A final important note on DNA results and your Sheep Genetics submission. Make sure your DNA results are submitted to Sheep Genetics through BreedELITE after you receive them. They are not automatically sent to Sheep Genetics by the lab. If you need help with this then let us know. This will be discussed more in future Sheep Talks.
A commitment to getting your data collection system streamlined in your business and using the tools available to you like BreedELITE and ASBV’s to turn data into information that drives your business has the ability to deliver significant gains in your sheep business. If you want help with how to nail this in your business then feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help you out.