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New Directions for Sheep Research

New directions and a greater combined pool of money are in store for research into sheep in the future. The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology has announced changes to its investments in the sheep industry as part of its overall review of its research investments.

The Foundation says after carefully reviewing the research proposals put to it concerning sheep, it’s decided to invest in emerging areas including sheep genomics, genetic and hormonal control of reproduction in sheep, genomics of hair and skin and a proposal to investigate immune control of parasites. Another major research project is also likely to get the green light in the near future if new funding for research consortia is forthcoming. Currently these proposals will involve $6.5 million (incl GST) annually for the next five years.

In addition to these proposals the Ovita consortium comprising of AgResearch, Agritech (a wholly owned subsidiary of Meat New Zealand) and the New Zealand Wool Board will invest a further $11.25 million (incl GST) annually into sheep research.

According to the Foundation, the combined Foundation and Ovita investment in sheep research will be in the order of $90 million over five years which is a substantial increase over previous investments in this area.

While some key new approaches to parasite control will be funded by the Foundation, it no longer intends to fund a project into parasites in sheep that primarily addresses aspects of sheep farming sustainability. The new areas of research being funded are higher risk but potentially have significant long term benefits to the industry and are designed to retain New Zealand’s long term competitive advantage in the export market.

The Foundation says the changes are in line with its overall investment strategy to fund research that is more future focussed and at the cutting edge of science. It says this approach is necessary in an increasingly competitive global market where research that adds significant value and offers opportunities for new industries is central to future economic prosperity.

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