An­gus to build on bet­ter breed data

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

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.”

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