Angus to build on better breed data
TASMANIAN Angus breeders got to hear about the latest developments at an Angus Australia regional forum last week in Launceston.
About 25 producers attended the forum, one of a series being held across the country.
Angus Australia strategic projects manager Christian Duff said the forums were an opportunity to exchange information.
A focus for the organisation is offering breeders more tools to improve their herds.
“What we’re homing in on now is being able to use nextgeneration technology for breeding selection,” he said.
“There are no specific traits we’re focusing on, but we want make sure we’re recording all commercially relevant traits we can that genetics can have an effect on.”
More breeders are now using genomics and Mr Duff said key to this was increasing the breed’s reference population so accuracy of the technology was improving.
“Currently we’re very well positioned as far as genomics goes,” he said.
“Our members now can use DNA technology to help select cattle in conjunction with their other tools. But we’re still looking to get more information to increase the accuracy of our genomic tests as well.”
Now about 20 per cent of Angus animals are genomically tested in a calving year, totalling around 10,000 to 12,000 calves a year.
“There is still a cost benefit side to things and it really depends on the individual’s herd and what they’re trying to achieve,” Mr Duff said.
“The biggest thing is it allows you to get higher-accuracy information on younger animals. It’s not there to replace pedigree and performance recording, but to complement.”
Making breeding decisions earlier can help speed up genetic improvements.
Mr Duff said Heifer Select was a useful tool offering information on commercial females. About 4000 heifers have been tested since the program was launched last year.
Over the past five years the cost of DNA testing has dipped from around $200 a head to about $50 and it also provides much more information.
Mr Duff said at present mainly stud breeders were using the tests.
He expected there to be more focus on the breed’s performance in grass-fed systems, particularly in feed intake.
Another major influence will be more detailed carcass data becoming available.
Mr Duff said signals from the supply chain on desirable traits would improve herds but he stressed the importance of eating quality. “At the end of the day the consumer is the only one putting money back into the system.”