As part of the scholarship Mr Gubbins will study the Merino breed with a specific focus on the period from conception through to weaning.
"I would like to explore the use of DNA markers and electronic identification to better understand genetic traits that could help with lamb survival and growth rates," he said.
"Woolgrowers are always looking to improve their operations and there have been great gains made through existing programs. Lambing is a crucial time for any sheep producer and through this study I aim to find ways of making lambing even better and to build on the improvements made through programs such as Lifetime Ewe Management," he added.
The scholarship is a unique opportunity for a woolgrower to study a particular subject of interest to increase the knowledge and skills within the Australian wool industry. With an increased focus on education and training, Australian Wool Innovation is proud to continue a strong involvement with Nuffield Australia.
As the livestock manager on a Western Victorian property, Mr Gubbins has responsibility for a Merino flock of 5500 commercial ewes and 600 stud ewes, 4000 weaners and 2000 mixed-age wethers. The operation has a winter grazed area of approximately 1200 hectares and runs alongside an annual cropping program of around 3000 hectares.
However, it is the full potential of the Merino sheep breed that he is most interested in. The goal is to present his research in a way which is both easy to understand and implement.
"I would like to share and extend the outcomes of my studies through small presentations on a local level. I also hope to implement any new ideas or systems I may learn as one of the best ways to demonstrate new knowledge is through working examples."
"The wider industry stands to benefit from anyone who can improve the Merino's ability to conceive and raise a lamb that has the ability to survive to weaning age," Mr Gubbins said.
Nuffield Australia is an organisation providing opportunities to Australian farmers to travel overseas on an agricultural research scholarship. It is a 16-week program consisting of both group and individual travel. In March 2014 there will be one group travelling through Canada, United States (California and Washington DC), Mexico, Europe, Brazil and New Zealand, while a second group will tour South Africa, Kenya, Eastern Europe, Europe and USA.
Australian Wool Innovation Limited
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