Beef breeders jump on genomics revolution

BEEF breeders have rushed to join a new project launched by the Beef CRC and MLA to speed up genetic gain through vastly improved and more accurate genomic predictions for Australian beef cattle.
Beef CRC CEO Dr Heather Burrow said the number of subscribers to the project reflected growing confidence in the industry in the value of genomics to predict commercially important traits.
"With the genomic prediction equations developed from the new 700K SNP chips, we will deliver a world-first product that will identify the genetic qualities for hard-to-measure production and reproduction traits across breeds," Dr Heather Burrow said.
The project invited beef breed societies and breeders to participate in the genotyping of 3000 young animals to predict their breeding value using the new genomic prediction equations.
About 110 breeders representing 11 different breeds applied to be part of the project, with the collection of samples for genotyping beginning last month.
The owners of the 3000 animals are the first in Australia to receive the new Australian blended genomic breeding values for their animals.
Dr Hans Graser, Director of AGBU, who is coordinating the project through the Beef CRC, said the 3000 animal project supported the cost of genotyping for breeders as part of the rollout of genomic predictions for Australian beef cattle.
"The accuracy of these genomic predictions will vary across breeds and across traits," Dr Graser said. "We are still in the process of calibrating their accuracy for all Breedplan traits. They will be tested using the industry sires which were genotyped in 2011."
If shown to be robust, the predictions will help commercial bull-buyers to identify which bulls are most suited for their production systems with greater confidence. They will also improve the accuracy of all Breedplan traits.
MLA's manager of R&D strategy Dr Rob Banks said the key advantage for breeders was to gain a genetic insight into the qualities of young animals that do not have any performance data recorded.


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