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MateSel in sheep breeding

MateSel does the selection and allocation in your flock. It is designed to aid in balancing genetic gain and genetic diversity by optimising mate selections for given male and female candidates. The Sheep Genetics MateSel utilises pedigree and ASBV information.

This learning package will take you through the key things to know before starting to use MateSel.

It is important to consider your breeding program, ensure full pedigree and all traits of interest are measured. It is also important to identify the index most suited to your breeding program.  These key pieces of information are used  by MateSel. In preparation for using MateSel you need to understand where you to be and what they want to achieve using MateSel. It is also very important for mate allocations that dam pedigree is recorded so that inbreeding can be correctly measured. 


Genetic improvement comes from selecting animals with the best genes to be the parents of the next generation to meet your business and breeding goals.

In addition to using the best genes to optimise performance, you can also breed better animals by:

  • measuring as many traits as possible
  • joining younger animals for shorter generation intervals
  • using genomics to get more information for hard to measure traits
  • better utilising existing genetic and trait information.

In this section you will learn the basics on how genetics can progress your flock and enterprise.

Three things to know about selecting genetics before you start:

A direction – breeding objective
A breeding objective sets the direction for your flock or for meeting the needs of client flocks. You need to know what you want to breed for. Create a list of desired traits or the type of animal you want to run and use this, along with business goals, to develop what is called a breeding objective.

Speed – rate of genetic gain
You can use breeding values (ASBVs) to select the best parents to use to meet your breeding objective. There are more ways that you can accelerate your productivity. You can design a breeding programme that uses artificial breeding technology, genomics and mating allocations to get faster gain. This is the idea of breeding programme design.

Better data, better breeding values, better progeny
When you make selection using ASBVs you want that decision to work out to be the right one. There are many quality checks in place when data is submitted to Sheep Genetics. You can go the extra mile by making sure your recording is as good as possible. Attend Regional Forums or request a RAMping Up Genetic Gain report from the Development Officers at Sheep Genetics. Data quality can be simplified into: full pedigree, recording the full drop, capturing fixed effects.

Breed for multiple traits at once

You can select for, and improve, multiple traits at once. However, there are also many genes that influence different traits. These traits that share genes are correlated, which means they are genetically related.

When you select for one trait you may find changes in other traits in the progeny of selected animals, due to genetic correlations.

Correlations are either positive or negative (or zero when no correlation exists).

A positive correlation is when selection for one trait leads to an increase in anther traits, such as growth rate and birth weight.

A negative correlation is when selection for one trait leads to a decrease in another trait, such as fat depth and lean meat yield.

A positive correlation can be considered favourable or unfavourable. For example an unfavourable positive correlation is between fleece weight and fibre diameter. They both go up together but we usually don’t want fibre to get broader.