The popular RamSelect app will move to a commercial funding model ahead of this season’s ram sales, as a first step towards ensuring the genetic selection tool’s financial viability and availability to producers in the long-term.
RamSelect Plus is an easy to use web-based application, which allows ram buyers to find and rank rams based on Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) that match their own breeding objective.
First released in 2015 by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), RamSelect has proven to be an extremely valuable tool for both ram sellers and sheep breeders, with more than 15,000 rams from 186 stud catalogues listed in the first year, jumping to 17,600 from 224 catalogues in 2016.
Ram buyers conducted more than 6300 ram searches during the 2016 ram sale season, and the volume of rams listed equates to approximately 10% of the national ram market.
As the Sheep CRC’s principal industry funding partner, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) were afforded the first opportunity to commercialise the app and secure its long-term future for industry.
“MLA has recently informed the Sheep CRC that they will not exercise their rights under Clause 24.4 of the Participants Agreement to commercialise RamSelect, and this means that we need to develop an alternative strategy for long-term sustainable delivery,” Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said.
“To continue to provide the RamSelect app to industry the Sheep CRC now needs to work with our participants to develop a cost-recovery model to support its continued delivery and ongoing improvements, both in the short term and to put it on a secure financial footing for a long life after the CRC comes to an end in 2019.
“As a result, in 2017 the Sheep CRC will be conducting a pilot project to understand the willingness of breeders and producers to pay for the services provided by RamSelect and review a range of cost recovery options.”
From July 2017, ram breeders who list their catalogues for sales scheduled from 1 August 2017, will be required to pay $3.50/ram to advertise their animals on the site for a period of three months.
“For a catalogue of 100 rams this equates to $350 for constant exposure over a three-month period, which we believe compares very favourably to other methods of advertising stud stock,” Prof. Rowe said.
There will be no charges for ram buyers conducting on-line searches of catalogues listed on the RamSelect site and users will also be able to print lists of rams which meet their breeding objectives.
However, users who wish to save their breeding objective, together with a sale list and their ram team information or genomic profiling information, will be required to become a registered user at a cost of just $25 per year.
“Producers doing a Flock Profile DNA test will receive a free registration for 12 months so that they can store test results and adjust their rams searches based on this data to make more accurate and productive genetic selections,” Prof. Rowe said.
During the 2017 ram-buying season the Sheep CRC will work with its participants and other interested parties to develop a commercialisation plan for implementation in 2018 and beyond.
Source: Sheep CRC