This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have Sarah talking about genetics, technology and solving problems in the Agricultural industry.
Sarah is currently Global Strategy and New Ventures Manager at Gallagher and also breeds Polled Dorsets in the Waikato, NZ. Sarah grew up on a farm with a father who was a ram breeder. "I have always been around stud sheep," says Sarah
After spending some time after university as an Agricultural journalist, Sarah returned to genetics and started working for the the Ultrafine Merino Company.
"I looked after the breeding programme of their nucleus flock at Tara Hills and helped sell the wool into Asia, developing different pricing mechanisms."
"We did a lot of testing around spinning efficiently and the wool. We could show the company we were working with that we could add more value to their processing efficiency and then we shared the premiums with them."
Mark explains what the company is. "Breeders came together and measured the micron of over 20,000 ewes and bought them into a central nucleus of 600. Then they set about breeding the worlds finest merino, essentially."
"A lot of those foundation breeders are still chopping away and producing some
Sarah currently breeds Polled Dorsets. She recently moved from Canterbury to the Waikato. "That would have been quite a challenge moving to an FE area for the sheep?" ask Mark
"It's a really big challenge. We will bolus the ram hoggets but we don't do anything else, they just have to survive." says Sarah. "We've already seen some sire lines that are much more resistant to it."
Very early in on in the sheep DNA pedigree days, Sarah was involved with Ovita. "We had the problem at the time that it was pretty expensive tech. So we came up with a product that only had 7 markers in the panel and developed some smart ways of being able to get more accuracy."
"There was lots of challenges along the way of getting people on board. Over time as we got the price down, people saw the value and we added more traits into the panel that told you about muscling, fecundity, worm resistance and things like that," Sarah explains. "Then we moved in top the SNP chip days, so now accuracy is very high. So it was a journey and understanding the problem... and that's what a lot of my career has been about. Then working out a way to solve it and taking people on the journey."
Sarah has been at Gallagher for nearly 7 years. "We've been on a journey about future thinking and looking further out and thinking; what is the future on farm?
"We've been working really hard to get a product to market that has the reliability of the products that we traditionally are known for, which is extremely high. When you read statistics our products are more reliable than Boing!"
Mark asks Sarah what she thinks the next 10 years will bring in Ag.
"I think it's going
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