National Livestock Genetics Consortium taskforce calls the genetics R&D shots

Guest Author, 13/03/2018

THE National Livestock Genetics Consortium (NLGC), now a little over 15 months old, has set a goal to increase the value of genetics to the red meat industry by $400 million by 2022, through doubling the rate of annual genetic gain in the commercial livestock industry value chain.

MLA’s general manager for producer consultation & adoption, Michael Crowley

A previous cost benefit analysis of Meat and Livestock Australia investment in genetics research showed that for every dollar invested, the industry benefit was four dollars.

“I think we can do better than that,” MLA general manager of producer consultation and adoption, Michael Crowley told the recent Brisbane Livestock Breeding and Genetics forum.

The NLGC was established in late 2016 and is governed by a skills-based taskforce. The role of the taskforce is to provide a formal industry consultation platform for the investment in livestock genetics led by genetic researchers and key industry stakeholders.

The primary aim of this initiative is to significantly increase the rate of genetic progress achieved in the beef and sheep industries.

The National Livestock Genetics Consortium’s aims include:

  • Doubling the annual rate of improvement in industry genetic value by 2022
  • Coordinating research, reducing timelines and costs ensuring delivery of world leading genetic improvement
  • The seamless transfer of information to industry and provision of easy-to-use data sharing products and services – a national data platform accessible by all industry participants.
  • Improving adoption through unifying the delivery of genetic research, development and adoption across the commercial livestock industry, and
  • Delivering an additional $400 million in industry improvements to the commercial livestock industry value chain.

The Taskforce is jointly chaired by MLA managing director, Richard Norton and NSW Department of Primary Industries senior executive, Dougal Gordon. Current members of the NLGC Taskforce and the sectors they represent are:

  • Northern Beef – Michael Lyons, commercial Brahman breeder, Charters Towers, Qld
  • Southern Beef – Tom Gubbins; principal of Te Mania Angus stud, Mortlake, Vic
  • Breed Societies – Peter Parnell, CEO of Angus Australia and Brett Coombe, board member of Australian Brahman Breeders Association and manager of a large commercial beef operation.
  • Researchers – Prof Ben Hayes, University of Queensland, Dr Sigrid Lehnert, CSIRO, Dr Julius Van Der Werf, University of New England.
  • Wool – Mark Mortimer, Centre Plus Merino Stud, Tullamore, NSW.
  • Prime lamb – Troy Fischer, Ashmore White Suffolk Stud, Walmsley, SA
  • Processing – Tom Maquire, General Manager, Corporate Services, Teys Australia.
  • Composite breeding – Sam Harburg, general manager, breeding & genetics, NAPCo.
  • Adoption & extension – Danielle England, consultant, Aginnovate, SA.

An annual open call process for project applications related to genetics in the sheep and beef industries has been implemented with proposals being considered by the NLGC Taskforce.

Projects considered to have sufficient merit in terms of their potential to be successful in increasing the rate of genetic progress are recommended for funding through MLA levy funds, or the MLA Donor Company (which requires matching funding from the research organisations involved).

Recommendations from the taskforce are considered by the MLA board in making decisions on major investments into genetics and genomics RD&A that address the NLGC aims.

Hamish Chandler

MLA genetics program manager Hamish Chandler said to date, two call cycles had been completed with more than 25 new genetics R&D projects having been initiated through the NLGC, with a total value of $29 million.

The most recent annual call for research, development and adoption proposals closed on 22 December. A requirement was that the proposals responded to the three NLGC 2018/19 priorities of “Culture change,” “Linking genetics to consumer outcomes” and “New or novel genetics R&D.”

A further 29 projects have been submitted to the current call and were considered by the taskforce in February.

The projects recommended by the taskforce will be considered for funding by the MLA and MDC boards in May.




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  1. Mike Introvigne, 14/03/2018

    The first step in adding value to genetics is a system that rewards carcase yield as well as eating quality. So what ever system that is employed to achieve this we need to implement it without further delay. Without such a system there is no point in seedstock producers striving for genetic gain if there is no reward for the commercial production sector. Another key component of delivery increased profits is the adoption of crossbreeding on a much larger scale than currently exists. Take the sheep meat industry, you will struggle to find a meat sheep production system that doesn’t utilise crossbreeding.
    I think NLGC must look at what we already have before spending millions on the next step which appears to many as a job for the boys. Genomics is a key ingredient to optimising genetic gain but we must not overlook the fundementals which I have outlined.

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