Sheep farming in Australia’s Mediterranean regions is difficult because farmers do not know how much pasture will grow each year. Additionally, long drought periods mean farmers need to feed grain which is expensive.
To make sheep easier to manage, I found that sheep can be bred to lose less weight during droughts, making them more resilient to uncertain pasture growth. Additionally, sheep that lose less weight can also have more lambs. I also found that the type of sheep that farmers breed can affect the resilience of sheep farms to uncertain pasture growth and droughts. The best traits to select for are those that increase profit whilst only changing energy requirements by small amounts. Additionally, the best traits to select for change depending on the reliability of pasture growth in different regions. Therefore, farmers can use the breeding strategies from my thesis to help increase the profitability and viability of sheep farms in Western Australia.