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Ontario Suffolk Sire 
Reference Association

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Sire Reference

Serving All of North-





The following short series of articles will deal with some
of the issues surrounding genetics faced by breeders and
producers alike.  These include:

  1. The mystery surrounding EPDs; what do they
    mean ?  How are they produced ?  How can
    information be manipulated ?
  2. Making more money with genetics; selecting superior
    sires and dams.
  3. Is one breed better than another ?  How should
    breeds be used ?
  4. What about inbreeding ?  Should you be worried
    about it ?
  5. Making the most out of the technology; new
    developments to aid decision-making.

There are two kinds of animal breeding that, contrary to
some opinions, are not mutually exclusive!  Breeding to
improve appearance dates back to very early times.
Some of the motivation is to improve eye appeal, but certainly
there are good productivity reasons as well.  Big sheep
tend to grow faster.  Sheep with large buttocks have
more meat.  Sheep that look "woolier" grow more wool.
So selecting sheep "bye eye" can be effective, and indeed
has been.  The other method of animal breeding is to use
extensive amounts of information about animals and their
relatives in sophisticated computer programs that try
to estimate an animals genetic value for breeding for
a host of traits.  This other method is full of anachronisms
(abbreviations used as words) like EPD, EBV, PTA,
BLUP and the list goes on !  It is steeped in statisticsa and
mathematics and computer programming.  No wonder



everybody shies away from it!  But it's really not all that
difficult, and in the articles to follow we'll try to explain
how simple it all really is.

So if there are two kinds of animal breeding, are there
different motivations for choosing one or the other? I
think so.  Some people just like to have some fun with
their animals.  Well, maybe most people would like to
have fun, but some people are content to have just fun,
even if it costs them a lot of money.  That's ok.  After
all, we spend a lot of money on having fun of all different
sorts.  But some people prefer to make money (and this
might be fun!).  I imagine that most people wan to
have fun and make money doing it.  Ok, having said all
that babble, what I really wan to say is that I think you
can have fun and make money using a combination of
animal breeding "by eye" and by using BLUP and some
of the other new technologies.  If eye works, why use
BLUP ?  If I tell you now, I'd be waving a magic wand
just like you've seen before expecting you to just believe
it works.  So stay tuned.  And in the mean time, go have
some fun.
Susan Meszaros (from the land of Oz)

The Directors travelled to many parts of the continent to
promote OSSRA.

Bill Duffield spent a day promoting OSSRA at the
Western Ontario Lamb  Producers Association (WOLPA)
Producer day.




New Members
We warmly welcome new members Joe Stephenson and
Ralph Stephen.

Sire Reference Profile
Each year a new Reference Sire(s) will be chosen.
Breeders in the OSSRA program will breed a minimum
of fifteen (15) registered Suffolk ewes to the reference

The progeny from the reference breedings combined
with the balance of each producer's registered Suffolk
flock, bred with the flock sire(s) will then go into the
sire reference monitoring program.

The monitoring program begins with the recording of
lamb birth weight, born alive/dead, along with ROP
supervised weight at 50 day and 100 days of age.

This data will then be combined with loin-eye depth
and back-fat determination at 100 days using ultrasonography
to develop an Estimated Breeding Value.

Birth weights and percent born alive will be used as an
indicator of lambing ease, which is an important factor
for any shepherd.
A selection committee made up of OSSRA members,
with every committee member having an equal vote, will
select  the new Reference Sire(s) based on EBVs and the
overall structural correctness of the rams under consideration.



OSSRA 3rd Reference Sire

OSSR003 Our Third Reference Sire

Birth wt 5.7 Kg.  50 day adj wt 31.8 Kg*
100 day wt 54.6 Kg, ADG 0.45*
EPD Gain 0.85*

LambPlan Information
Index  (75:0:25)  126.5
ywt                       1.748
yemd                    0.319
yfat                      -0.246
Spider DNA test returned NN

* All weights are expressed in kilograms (Kg) unless otherwise noted.



The Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency (OSMA) and
OSSRA signed an Agreement for scanning research, this
will be a joint venture between OSSRA, OSMA and the
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs.
OSSRA also has a great working relationship with the
British Suffolk Sire Reference Scheme, who have helped us
a great deal over the past few years.
We also continue to receive a complimentary copy of their
newsletter which is greatly appreciated.

The 1998 Reference Sire Selection Process is well under
way and we are just waiting for the photographs of the
animals that have made the top ten so that ballots can be
sent out to all members.
The Board of Directors agreed at the last board meeting
that all Reference rams must be NN for Spider DNA
This will be added to our already extensive Health protocol.
OSSRA is making excellent genetic progress, we have
some excellent graphs from LambPlan which should be
ready for publication soon.
Input from all members for this newsletter is much appreciated.




We also had a display at our AGM which was held at
Sheep Focus in Markham, Ontario in conjunction with
our ram sale, members from as far away as Ohio and
Indiana attended.

Dr. Paul Hunter from Ohio represented OSSRA at the
Top of the Rockies Sale in Colorado.

Greg and Penny Shewfelt travelled to Truro Nova Scotia
to promote OSSRA at the 1998 Canadian Sheep Classic.

OSSRA now has a full membership in LambPlan
(Australia) which greatly benefits all members.
Once all our Sheep Flock Improvement Plan Data is in
to the Secretary and he sends it to LambPlan via e-Mail
the data is processed and returned to the Secretary
within 24 hours.

The Super Efficient way in which they process our data
and rank all the animals on our index is a great help in
the speedy completion of our ram Selection Process.

A group of Vermont Sheep farmes received first hand
information about OSSRA from Bill Duffield whi was
invited to speak to them as part of their Ontario Sheep


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