Dunedin-based consultancy company AbacusBio and the
University of Otago are among research partners in a new
collaboration which brings together New Zealand's sheep and
beef genetics research.
AgResearch is also playing a major role in the partnership,
which sees the consolidation of Sheep Improvement Ltd, the
Beef and Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test, and Ovita to
form Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics.
An AgResearch spokeswoman yesterday confirmed staff at
Invermay would be involved with the initiative.
The science plan for the work would be developed by Beef and
Lamb New Zealand Genetics and, once that was confirmed,
AgResearch would know how many staff were likely to be
involved, she said.
Total funding from government and industry sources would be
up to $8.8 million a year. Massey and Lincoln Universities
are also involved as research partners.
AbacusBio managing director Neville Jopson said when
contacted it was positive for the sheep industry.
Bringing together the three entities was a ''great thing to
do'' and should hopefully lead to more efficiency, he said.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce yesterday
announced a $15 million investment in genetics research to
improve profitability in the sheep and beef sector.
The funding, over five years and contributed by the Ministry
of Business, Innovation and Employment, would allow further
expansion into beef genetics.
It would also allow both the sheep and beef industries to
further improve genetic gain in the development of new traits
to satisfy the increasing trend of farming in hill-country
Mr Joyce said genetic improvement in the sheep industry had
contributed greatly to farm profitability and, for every
dollar captured on farm, another 50c was captured off-farm.
''In just 10 years, Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics expect
that farmers will receive $5.90 extra profit per lamb sold at
that time,'' Mr Joyce said.
Investing in genetics would help improve meat quality,
contribute directly to improving on-farm profitability, and
ensure the needs of consumers were met, he said.
Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen said the
Government funding was a ''pleasing show of confidence'' in
the sector, with the potential to significantly boost farmer
profitability and that of the economy.
The investment supported a whole range of research,
identifying new breeding traits that would produce more
efficient animals and those that met consumer preferences in
valuable export markets.
''We're especially interested in further developing the
traits that thrive on hill country, as this is where an
increasing proportion of New Zealand sheep and beef
production is based these days with changing land use to
dairy,'' Mr Petersen said.
Speeding up genetic gain and finding desirable genetic traits
would keep the industry ''ahead of the game and its
competitors'', he said.
It was intended Government investment would match
contributions from farmers and other commercial companies
through Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics.
A proposal to continue investing in genetics research and
innovation via Beef and Lamb New Zealand would be put to
sheep and beef farmers in the coming weeks ahead of the
organisation's annual meeting on March 14.
Farmers would be asked to reaffirm their current annual
investment of $2.9 million through a vote. Other private
sector funds of $1.5 million a year for the next five years
had been secured by Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics would
be sought from other sources to take the total funding to $44
million over five years.