Last week, MLA launched a newly developed Sheep Genetics search web tool that offers a range of improved features that make Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) more accessible and gives users the ability to customise data to suit their needs.
Here, MLA’s Senior Development Officer – Sheep Genetics, Peta Bradley, talks through why the site went through a redevelopment and what the improvements are.
Q: Why was the Sheep Genetics website redeveloped?
The National Livestock Genetics Consortium has a goal of doubling the rate of genetic gain in the Australian livestock industry by 2022 – achieving this requires an increase in producer adoption of genetic tools.
Our previous Sheep Genetics website had been in place for 12 years. The needs of producers have evolved during that time, so we knew it was time for a modern redesign.
MLA launched two projects to help improve the rate of genetic gain of the Australian sheep industry by simplifying the tools, language and descriptions offered through the ‘Sheep Genetics’ database web tool. The new tool provides users with simplified, intuitive access to information and improved flexibility to customise the tool to match goals specific to individual operations.
We have focused on making sure the changes would more successfully deliver Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs), not only to our Sheep Genetics clients, but to broader industry as well.
Q: What feedback has guided these changes?
We had a lot of feedback on the old website, both externally and internally, with performance being among the biggest issues experienced. With more than 4 million animals now analysed by Sheep Genetics and ASBVs available for a growing list of traits, the old site was slow to search and downloads were becoming a problem, so it was important the new tool addressed this.
Q: How has the site been improved?
We now have a new-look web tool that’s more user-friendly, so anyone who’s new to using ASBVs to purchase rams can easily find information and animals of interest.
Producers can also customise data to suit their viewing preference, whether this be visual or numbers-driven. Previously, data was only presented in a large table. Now, different types of displays, such as the graph view, have been made available to suit a broader audience.
There’s also been enhancements to how producers create sale and semen catalogues to list animals available for purchase, including the function of generating pen cards with a QR code that people can scan to bring these up directly on their phone.
Another big improvement is that producers who aren’t Sheep Genetics members can now create accounts, meaning they can save and export searches and find animals of interest more easily in the future.
Q. Is the tool accessible on different viewing devices?
The new web tool has been optimised for desktop, mobile and tablet. We recognised that people are viewing data in different ways than they used to, so incorporated this into the redevelopment.
It means the information you need will be available to you no matter your location, whether this be in the office, the sale yards or anywhere else.
Q. What comes next?
We’ll continue to grow the website and make it as user-friendly as possible, carrying on our goal to increase the rate of genetic improvement in our national sheep flock.
This is the first release of a new search site and we look forward to continuing its development.