Improvements in genomic or DNA-based technology has now made the prediction of breeding values for commercial Australian Angus animals a reality, stakeholders attending the recent 2020 Angus Connect Research & Development update heard.
Previously, pedigree information was required to understand the relationship between animals, but now genomic technology enabled the relationship between animals to be determined through analysis of the animals’ DNA profiles, without the need for pedigree details, Angus Australia’s Breed Development & Extension Manager, Andrew Byrne told the gathering.
Coupled with the availability of a relevant genomic reference population – being a large, well-recorded population of Australian Angus animals with both DNA profiles and comprehensive performance measurements – use of genomic technology to understand the genetic relationship between animals made the prediction of breeding value possible in commercial cattle.
“Genomic technology enables the genetic relationship between a commercial Angus animal and Angus animals in the genomic reference population to be determined, and the performance information that has been collected on the animals in the reference population can then be utilised to predict the breeding value of the commercial animal,” Mr Byrne said.
With the improvements in technology, Angus Australia and genotyping partners, Zoetis Animal Genetics and Neogen Australasia, are now focussed on expanding the genetic evaluation services that are available for Australian Angus seedstock animals to also provide genetic evaluation services to Angus breeders running a commercial Angus program.
Genetic evaluation of commercial Angus heifers is available through the Angus HeiferSelect product, where genetic predictions are provided for nine important traits, along with total breeding value and a star rating.
Alternatively, commercial Angus heifers or unregistered Angus bulls which have been sired by a registered sire, can be recorded in Angus Australia’s Angus Performance Register and receive Estimated Breeding Values for 18 traits from the TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation.
Angus Australia is also working in collaboration with CSIRO geneticists to develop an Angus SteerSelect product.
With targeted availability from January 2021, Angus SteerSelect will predict the genetic merit of commercial Angus steers and facilitate the drafting of Angus steers into production systems that are suited to their genetics.
“Better knowledge of the genetic merit of individual commercial Angus animals, be it either heifers or steers, will enable more informed selection decisions to be made, and will ultimately increase the profitability delivered from use of Angus genetics in the Australian beef supply chain” Mr Byrne said.
Information on the genetic evaluation services available for commercial animals is available from the Angus Australia website.
Source: Angus Australia
Just wondering if Andrew Byrne could pass comment on how commercial producers can justify the current cost of these genomic tests (HeiferSelect etc)? For example, for a producer who runs a 500-cow operation, to test all progeny in order to determine which females to retain as replacements and which steers to retain as feeders etc, would cost >$18,000 (assuming the steer tests will cost roughly the same as the current heifer tests, $40/hd, and a calving % of 90%).
If the solution is to only test a subset of the progeny, how do producers determine which animals are in this subset?