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Wool - Next Generation Project - Information Nucleus wool analysis

Project Leader

Dr Sue Hatcher

Tel: 02 6391 3861

Email -

About this Project

This project will work In collaboration with Program 4 (Information Nucleus) and work with individual sites, collect and aggregate measured and assessed wool phenotypic data, and perform analyses; develop phenotypic selection methods for important, difficult-to-measure, wool traits related to wool colour, photostability, and moduli, based on NIR technology. To date the hoped for NIR calibration against clean scoured wool colour has been shown to be very inaccurate. Only washing yield has come out of the analysis as a reasonably accurate prediction; define practical cost-effective non-genetic, sheep management treatments to improve scoured colour of wool, and which may potentially assist simultaneous reduction in the incidence of fleece rot; and as part of a total sheep enterprise business solution ensure correlations are determined for all wool traits against important traits for reproduction, meat and parasites.

Business Case

The broad range of phenotypic measurements made on sheep in the Information Nucleus flock is anticipated to generate new knowledge of the interaction between wool production, aspects of sheep management and selection for other traits. It is essential to understand the implications for wool production and quality associated with different breeding objectives in a variety of production environments and this Project is primarily responsible for this task. The Project will also investigate the potential use of near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIR) technology for assessing wool quality. NIR is used successfully in a number of industries to predict difficult to measure characteristics on the basis of the reflectance spectrum. A key benefit of NIR is the speed, low cost and multi-factor analysis possible with appropriate calibration. The wide range of wool measurements made on sheep from the Information Nucleus flocks combined with the diverse genotypes and environmental conditions makes this an ideal data set for NIR calibration. The Project will also be responsible for investigating the extent of phenotypic and genetic variation of novel, difficult to measure traits such as bending modulus.


In collaboration with Program 4 (Information Nucleus) and working with individual Information Nucleus sites and other relevant resource flocks, collect and aggregate measured and assessed wool phenotypic data, perform initial analyses, assist generate breeding values for scoured wool colour, and photostability, and provide basis for selection indexes, taking into account cross-correlations between traits. Analysis of Information Nucleus data is expected to identify important differences due to genotype and environment in wool characteristics such as tensile strength, whiteness and photostability. Hypotheses regarding the biological basis for these differences will form the basis of further research and is likely to be well-suited to postgraduate student research topics. Samples of wool from sheep in the Information Nucleus flocks were provided to AWTA for measurement of NIR spectral scans. The NIR data was tested for possible calibration against a range of different wool characteristics including difficult-to-measure, wool traits related to wool colour, photostability, and moduli. It was hoped that a prediction algorithm would be determined for scoured colour. Unfortunately this proved to be very inaccurate. The only prediction to come from the NIR work was a prediction for scoured yield.

Products & Training Resources

Products & Training Resources

Wool Program Brochures

Download the Wool Program brochures below.