For us there are two sides to achieving ongoing genetic gain – buying the genetics to achieve it and using kill sheet data to measure and monitor it.
On one side is SIL system and CPT. We’ve got real faith that they point us to the right genetics for dual purpose high lamb growth rate.
On the other is historical data that now goes back 13 years. We’ve been taking the best information from our kill sheets since 2002 and now have data on around half a million animals.
I was fortunate to be encouraged to develop a targeted long-term way to measure genetic progress. At the time we wanted to address the genetic problems we were having around too little weight gain and too much fat, and we identified kill sheets as a potential mine of information if we could present the information in a useable way.
We developed an XL-based programme with GR, weight, carcase, kill date, market compatability and average within grade data that can be easily manipulated, giving a 20/20 view of the effects of genetic gain.
As we look back we obviously need to account for climatic effects year-by-year. The key is that it continues to show the key metrics are heading in the right direction.
The good news for all farmers is that most processing companies are beginning to provide this same information in an easy-to-use way, and I’d encourage farmers to use it. It’s surprising what’s lying in the figures.
For us it’s solely an internal benchmark - it has no bearing on the world outside. It’s how we’re doing year-on-year that matters.