Booroola gene lifts lambing rates

Posted: July 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm

THE multiple-birth Booroola gene has been around a long time.

And while it might be named after a property near Cooma, NSW, where it was identified in 1959, its origins are far away.

In the Indian province of West Bengal, where the tiny Garole, a veritable micro sheep (up to 15kg adult ewe), endowed this remarkable quirk in its DNA strand on the rest of the sheep world.

Of course, once DNA becomes involved, the story quickly becomes mired in scientific gobbledegook.

But in a nutshell, the Booroola, or Fec B gene, can, in one generation, fast track your flock from lambing anywhere between the Merino average (75-80 per cent) and prime-lamb averages of 100-plus per cent to 200 per cent.

And more.

At Booroola, near Cooma, lambing rates have touched 270 per cent.

CSIRO researchers in 1959 quickly realised it was one major gene doing all the good work and the race to isolate the Booroola gene was on.

Jump forward 50 years to Cavendish in southwest Victoria, where former DPI researcher and veterinarian Leo Cummins and his wife, Liz, have achieved 202 per cent in their May scanning results.

Leo said he first came across the Booroola gene when he was doing his PhD at Armidale in NSW in the 1970s. It has fascinated him since for its ability to produce more without needing more land, more sheep and more expense.

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Booroola gene lifts lambing rates

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