Genetic marker testing of sheep for increased muscling and reduced fat has now reached the UK, with the launch of MyoMAX from Catapult Systems.

The test will enable ram breeders to identify sheep with the potential to deliver better carcasses, explains
Catapult’s Stuart Ward.

“Animals carry either one or two copies of the gene, with the test dividing animals into three catergories, non-carriers, single carriers and double carriers, which are known as MyoMAX Gold.

“The gene leads to a significant increase in killing out percentages, higher meat yields and reduced fat cover, with a single copy of the gene resulting in 5% more meat in the hindquarters and 7% less fat.

Rams classified as MyoMAX Gold will pass at least one copy of the gene to their progeny, meaning they will have better conformation than their non-carrier counterparts.

“The presence of MyoMAX should mean prime lambs are in demand from processors, as more lambs will meet the demands of consumers,” he believes.

MyoMAX is known to be present in several breeds, with it being most prevalent in Texels, but also in Lleyns, Charollais and Romney and some composite breeds with these genetics in their makeup.

Testing requires a single drop of blood, without the requirement for a vet to bleed sheep, says Mr Ward.

jonathan.long@rbi.co.uk