Trangie Agricultural Research Centre has a long history of research in sheep and beef genetics and has contributed substantially to the understanding of the genetic characteristics of Merino sheep and beef cattle, particularly the Angus breed.
Sheep in yards at Trangie. Photo: John Gasparotto
Some 80% of Merino rams sold in NSW, and 60% nationally, are now derived from studs that use selection indexes in their breeding programs. Long term research programs at Trangie have made a major contribution to the development of these indexes. Most recently, the ‘Q-PLU$’ program has shown, after 10 years of selection in several Merino lines, that wool fibre diameter can be reduced by within-flock selection without sacrificing fleece weight or other aspects of wool quality. In the most responsive line, fleece value was increased by 35% over this period. This project has provided the wool industry with a powerful demonstration of the benefits of objective selection and the potential for improved productivity by use of genetic tools now readily available to breeders. Another long term selection program has produced Merino lines that are either ‘susceptible’ or ‘resistant’ to fleece rot, the precursor of body strike, and cooperative work with CSIRO is in progress in an attempt to identify gene markers that may allow selection for this important characteristic.
Angus cattle feeding on Sudax at Trangie. Photo: John Gasparotto
Beef geneticists working at Trangie have recently completed the most comprehensive research on feed efficiency of beef cattle in the world. This research, focussed on the trait known as ‘net feed intake’, has made Australia the global leader in reducing the cost of beef production through genetic means. The total benefit of this technology to the southern Australian beef industry has been estimated at $197.3 million over the period 2003-2020. An associated benefit will be the reduction in green house gas emissions by cattle that are selected for low net feed intake.
Carrying out an Electromagnetic Induction (EM) survey using an EM31 to map the soil's electrical conductivity. Photo: David Mitchell.
Rangeland ecologists at the Centre have developed the concept of Tactical Grazing as a basis for sustainable management of semi-arid rangelands and extension staff of DPI now promote the approach through an accredited short course. Trangie scientists continue to work in cooperation with colleagues from CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems and Queensland Dept of Natural Resources and Mines to develop the scientific basis for this approach.
The Agricultural Engineering Research Unit, based at the Centre, has been responsible for a number of engineering developments adopted by industry, particularly in relation to the design of jetting and dipping facilities for the sheep industry, and gaseous fertiliser application technology for the cotton industry. Members of the Unit continue to work on the development of precision agriculture systems.
Soils research at the Centre has resulted in a comprehensive soil management manual for producers operating on the hard setting red soils of the Central West.