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Lincoln scientists recognised sheep research

Lincoln based scientists recognised for sheep research

24 July 2008

Two Lincoln based AgResearch scientists were recognised for their outstanding achievements last night at the AGM of the Canterbury Section of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science (NZIAHS).

Dr David Scobie was presented with the Institute’s national AGMARDT Technology Transfer award for his outstanding extension work in promoting Low Cost Easy Care Sheep while colleague Dr Jolon Dyer was awarded the Canterbury section’s PGG Wrightson Seeds Ltd Significant Achievement award for his work on identifying and locating the coloured compounds responsible for wool discoloration.

The various aspects of Dr Dyer’s work were funded by Australian Wool Innovations, Wool Research, Meat & Wool New Zealand and the Foundation for Research Science and Technology while Dr Scobie’s work was funded by Meat & Wool New Zealand.

Dr John Keoghan, Chairman of the Canterbury Section said that both scientists were up against very strong competition but their projects were equally worthy of recognition.

“Dr Jolon Dyer is a young scientist who has already made significant progress in tackling a complex problem. His work provides some light at the end of the tunnel for wool.”

The colour of wool is intrinsically linked to its quality and value. Discolouration of wool has been a problem for the wool industry over many years but scientists have had a limited understanding of how coloured compounds (chromophores) form in wool despite the best efforts of researchers over 50 years.

“Dr Dyer’s work has laid the foundation for the development of targeted breeding, mitigation and protection strategies for whiter, brighter wool that will command a premium in the market-place and return more value to farmers.”

Dr David Scobie’s award was for his work on Low Cost, Easy Care sheep, which are characterised by little wool on the head, legs, belly or breech, and a genetically short tail.
While they produce less wool, the sheep also require less maintenance because they are not as susceptible to fly-strike and their short tails mean that docking isn’t required. One farmer calculated that if their flock was converted to Low Cost Easy Care sheep, wool income would fall by $1,800 but costs would be slashed by more than $10,000 per annum.

“David has combined his research with outstanding technology transfer in terms of explaining the benefits of Low Cost Easy Care Sheep to farmers up and down the country. He has shown enormous courage and dedication over more than a decade and fronted up at major events like the National Fieldays time and time again,” says Dr Keoghan.

ENDS

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