Ultrasound Used for Better Breeding in Sheep

Oct 06, 2009 By Stephanie Yao
Ultrasound Used for Better Breeding in Sheep
At the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, research leader Greg Lewis and his colleagues have shown that ultrasound could significantly improve the speed and accuracy of some sheep breeding methods.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Ultrasound technology routinely used to accurately predict characteristics that indicate carcass yield and value in cattle and swine can also be used in live sheep, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators have found.

At the U.S. Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, research leader Greg Lewis and his colleagues have shown that could significantly improve the speed and accuracy of selective breeding methods. Producers currently rely on visual appraisals to predict carcass traits before choosing which sheep to breed. Ultrasound provides a faster, more accurate alternative.

To test the reliability of the technology, the team took ultrasound images of 172 lambs before slaughter. Henry Zerby, an assistant professor at Ohio State University, coordinated the collection of carcass trait data for the lambs. Lewis and Dave Notter, a at Virginia Tech, collaborated to analyze the data.

The scientists found that a trained technician can capture an ultrasound image in about 30 seconds with reasonable accuracy. The images can then be used to estimate traits that influence the carcass value of market lambs. Such traits include loin muscle area, loin muscle depth and back-fat thickness.

Although initially more expensive than visual appraisals, the superior accuracy of ultrasound may translate into better economic returns through improved evaluation and selection of breeding stock. According to Lewis, ultrasound is an excellent way for breeding-stock producers to get the data they need to make selection decisions.

Reliable predictions save breeders valuable time, allowing for educated decision making about an animal’s offspring without waiting for the offspring to mature.

Sheep are an important part of the global agricultural economy, providing a wide array of raw materials used in products for domestic and international trade. In the United States, sheep are typically bred for meat and wool and have been part of the American landscape since colonial times.

Read more about the research in the October 2009 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Provided by USDA Agricultural Research Service

Explore further: How the brain combines information across sensory modalities

Related Stories

Scientists Study Holstein Milk Production, Fertility

Oct 05, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have discovered why Holsteins—bred to produce more milk—are less fertile than before breeding efforts were stepped up to increase dairy production: ...

Wanted: A sheep in sheep's clothing

Jun 06, 2006

Australian scientists say they are looking for the ugliest merino lambs they can find in a study that may challenge the dominance of synthetic fibers.

New tool to fast-track genetic gain in sheep

Jan 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from CSIRO are part of an international team that today launched a new genomic tool which is set to transform the future selection and breeding of sheep around the world.

Computer model improves ultrasound image

Nov 04, 2008

Doctors use diagnostic sonography or ultrasound to visualise organs and other internal structures of the human body. Dutch researcher Koos Huijssen has developed a computer model that can predict the sound transmission of ...

Recommended for you

Can pollution help trees fight infection?

4 hours ago

Trees that can tolerate soil pollution are also better at defending themselves against pests and pathogens. "It looks like the very act of tolerating chemical pollution may give trees an advantage from biological ...

Improving rice flour to aid food poverty

4 hours ago

A new, high-quality rice flour could help towards aiding global food poverty. "This rice flour serves not only as an alternative to wheat flour for those with wheat intolerance, but could also help to overcome ...

Stink bugs have strong taste for ripe fruit

6 hours ago

The brown marmorated stink bug has a bad reputation. And for good reason: every summer, this pest attacks crops and invades homes, causing both sizable economic losses and a messy, smelly nuisance—especially ...

Researchers discover how petunias know when to smell good

8 hours ago

Good timing is a matter of skill. You would certainly dress up for an afternoon business meeting, but not an evening session of binge-watching Netflix. If you were just a few hours off in your wardrobe timing, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.