The challenge:

The current industry tool for evaluation of sheep muscle mass and reproduction capacity, known as “sheep scoring”, is a manual measurement of back muscle and fat. This assessment is prone to wide ranging variations and errors.

This suboptimal technique means producers and consumers are not getting a true understanding of fertility and  product quality.

Given are 2.5 billion sheep and goats in the world and reproduction and, in Australia alone, the value of sheep meat and wool is around AU$10 billion this translates to significant lost profits and potential for herd improvement.

The approach:    

DPI Researcher, Dr Gordon Refshauge, has been involved in livestock research for 20 years and is focused on on-farm solutions for producers.His team, along with UTS  has developed a digital device called “Score 4 Sure” that standardises scoring and allows for consistency in measurement for industry. It can be used on farm and can be produced affordably. It is less invasive and can be integrated with other animal practices.

The device has high repeatability in measurement, highly accurate, easy to use, faster than status quo, providing data to support individual animal management, including connectivity to auto-drafting equipment and decision support.

The outcomes:  

“Score 4 Sure” takes the guess work out of sheep body condition assessment. This provides immediate confidence in the marketplace for the supply chain and greater precision for breeding programs. DPI Is commercialising this tool with the private sector.

The impact:

'Score 4 Sure' can be utlised globally by the sheep industry. DPI is fast-tracked this technology to give supply chain consistency,  to give farmers knowledge to improve their breeding programs and to provide quality research data to understand many other sheep management challenges.