Beef 2021

Capturing the opportunity to provide more accurate genetic information in northern Australia

Genetics editor Alastair Rayner, 10/05/2021

Alastair Rayner

Beef Central’s genetics columnist Al Rayner was in Rockhampton for Beef 2021 last week. Here is another installment in a series reports on the key genetics messages he picked up from the event’s vast seminars and competitions program. Some will be explored in more detail in upcoming weekly genetics reviews.




THE opportunities for productivity and meat quality gains in beef production in northern Australia was a key genetics theme across many of the Beef Australia symposiums and seminars last week.

Integral to the messages of opportunity were the themes of data capture, accuracy of information and a clear focus on production outcomes.

As part of Meat & Livestock Australia’s DNA to Dollars seminar, Sally Leigo, MLA’s program manager for adoption, highlighted the rapid increase among breeders seeking information on genetic performance as part of their sire selection process.

This counterbalances with data that showed less than 35 percent of bulls sold in northern Australia have genetic information available. Ms Leigo identified this has a practical impact on the northern industry where genetic progress is half the pace of the average southern producer.

The economic implications of this level of performance have not been overlooked by many in the industry.

Well known economist Ian McLean of Bush Agribusiness presented participants at the “Angus Influence” Symposium with some clear messages around production and performance.

He said the major message for producers was that those producers who are among the top 25pc of profitable herds measured across Australia, is their focus on “productive and efficient use of pasture to produce beef per hectare (or Adult Equivalents).”

Within these messages, Mr McLean highlighted the importance of selection for fertility, and that research conducted by Bush Agribusiness identified fertility as the key opportunity for producers to improve productivity and efficiency.

However, he identified that while fertility was the primary driver, the impact of mortality rate and sale weight along with overall fertility accounts for 80pc of the difference in productivity between herds.

Angus Australia’s Northern Development Officer, Jen Peart leading a panel session with producers from northern and southern Australia utilising Angus genetics in their operations. Sam Crowther, Harrow Grazing; Ben McGlynn, Paraway Pastoral and Robert McKenzie, Mackas Angus, pictured during the seminar.

The Angus Australia forum offered producers an insight into the opportunities to consider Angus genetics as part of their approach to improving or managing some of these variables more effectively, particularly in northern environments. While Angus are a temperate breed, the symposium was provided with case studies from northern beef producers who have utilised Angus genetics with high degrees of success.

The key theme of these case studies was the ability to access high accuracy genetic information, using genomics and EBVs to select sires suitable to join with Indicus infused cattle.

With a focus on improvements in reproductive rates, as well as growth and suitability for finishing programs, accuracy around traits such as Calving Ease, Days to Calving along with Mature Cow Weight and Growth traits have a significant impact on northern programs overall productivity and profitability.

Combining the earlier messages from MLA with the session’s financial focus, the opportunity to make significant financial improvement is clearly centered around producers’ ability to identify and select animals for key traits of fertility and growth for their environment.

And with significant gaps in available information from northern seedstock programs, many commercial breeders will start seeking sires with accurate information from further afield and using them to good effect in their businesses.


 Alastair Rayner is the Principal of RaynerAg, an agricultural advisory service based in NSW.  RaynerAg is affiliated with BJA Stock & Station Agents.  He regularly lists and sell cattle for clients as well attending bull sales to support client purchases.  Alastair provides pre-sale selections and classifications for seedstock producers in NSW, Qld and Victoria.  He can be contacted here or through his website














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  1. Paul+D.+Butler, 11/05/2021

    Manipulated genetic numbers do NOT improve fertility in cattle. Proper selection of properly adapted genetics DOES improve fertility, production and profitability.

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