Cousins Merino Service has recently added fat and eye muscle scanning to the list of services it provides to the livestock industry.
The two main attributes scanned are eye muscle depth and fat depth. Scanning for eye muscle area is also offered, however because of the strong genetic relationship between eye muscle depth and eye muscle area this adds little benefit to the data collected.
Ultrasound scanning enables ram buyers to select rams based on how well muscled and how fat that animal is accurately and without harming the animal. It is also a valuable tool in breeding programs to promote genetic gain in carcase traits, especially when it is incorporated into estimated breeding values.
This is the depth of the eye muscle, measured at the C site (45mm from centre of the spine). Research from MLA and the Sheep CRC indicate that selecting a ram with a more positive eye muscle depth can:
This is the measurement of fat depth at the C Depth. A deeper measurement indicates a fatter carcase.