Early results to explore segments of DNA that may relate to breech strike susceptibility are expected in 2014 according to CSIRO researchers in Armidale NSW.
With the advent of high density (700k, HD) ovine SNP Beadchips, both flystrike susceptible and resilient animals are being tested in a case-control design in the hope of locating any potential gene markers or groups of markers associated with resistance or susceptibility. A good result from this work would be a list of SNPs and genomic regions which display a clear association with breech strike resistance.
In Western Australia, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAFWA) research, funded by AWI, has confirmed how dags, urine stain, wrinkles and breech cover all play a part in making sheep prone to breech strike but these do not explain all differences. This observation has led to a study of the significance of odour in attracting sheep blowflies.
The good results using sniffer dogs to detect the difference between wool from resistant and susceptible sheep have supported the decision to fund a three year project with DAFWA and the University of WA into the role of odour in flystrike. The early results have been encouraging.
Other analysis by DAFWA has shown a relationship between poll strike and horns with horned animals more likely to become flystruck on their poll but no relationship between horns and polls with breech strike.
Trials involving liquid nitrogen as an application to reduce breech and tail wrinkle are being conducted after a proof of concept for the novel technique was established earlier this year. The treatment is commonly used on humans and the new work is focused more on improving the equipment and speed of treatment.
The other novel human treatment, laser technology, has not yet gained a proof of concept during scoping trials. However the potential of the technology has warranted further review of the technique.
More results across all research endeavours will present at the AWI R&D update in mid 2014.
Australian Wool Innovation Limited
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