Wagyu breeders launch ambitious new ten-year progeny test program

Beef Central, 20/04/2021


THE Australian Wagyu Association will shortly announce an ambitious new ten-year Progeny Test Program designed to validate high-value emerging Wagyu sires, set to commence later this month and run until 2031.

The launch of the new progeny test (abbreviated as AWA_PTP) will be a major announcement on Day 1 of the upcoming WagyuEdge annual conference to be held at the Gold Coast from 27-29 April.

Through establishing a formalised progeny test program, AWA aims to increase the accuracy of existing high-value Wagyu EBVs, as well as develop new Wagyu-specific traits for reproduction, structure, carcase and eating quality, chief executive Dr Matt McDonagh said.

Over the past five years, the Association has seen a significant increase in animal registrations and submission of performance data and genotypes for genetic analysis with Wagyu BreedPlan. The AWA now holds more than 100,000 genomic profiles on Wagyu cattle and estimates that half of the active registered animals now have genomic-assisted Single-Step Wagyu Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs).

The AWA is the third largest breed registry by numbers of primary registrations per year. The AWA estimates that 80pc of calves registered in the last three years have genomic DNA profiles.

With more than 13,000 registered sires and 120,000 registered females, the AWA is now turning its attention to proving up the next generation of Wagyu sires.

The aim of the new ten-year Progeny Test Program is to consolidate the substantial breed progress to date and add further value to this data by testing progeny to validate high-value emerging Wagyu sires.

While the AWA-PTP represents the first formally-structured progeny test program for the Wagyu breed in Australia, progeny test programs have proven to be key in the advancement of the Australian beef industry’s genetic improvement for the past 30 years.

The AWA-PTP will help to identify genetically superior sires that will have a strong influence on the future direction of the Wagyu breed.

Main project objectives include:

  • Generating comprehensive progeny test data on approximately 250 emerging Wagyu bulls.
  • Capturing data on about 3500 female progeny for new and hard-to-measure traits including female fertility and maternal performance.
  • Capturing data on about 3500 steer progeny for feed efficiency and structure as well as new carcase and eating quality traits.
  • Producing high-accuracy EBVs for Project Sires and Contributor Cow Herds and benefit the rest of the Wagyu population through genetic linkage and the use of genomic analysis.
  • Improving outcomes of breeding decisions and increase rate of genetic gain within the Wagyu breed, and
  • Expanding the diversity and size of the reference population for the Wagyu breed, leveraging the AWA genomic, pedigree and performance data to enable the validation and refinement of Wagyu BreedPlan and Selection Indexes.

Operating for ten years between 2021 and 2031, the AWA-PTP will join about 40 Fullblood Wagyu sires each year to more than 2000 Wagyu females over seven breeding cycles, using fixed time AI as recommended by AWA’s assisted reproduction partner Vetoquinol’s Repro360 team.

These females will be located across multiple contributor herds, spanning a range of Australian production environments. Contributor herds will be supported by AWA-PTP animal health partner Zoetis, to ensure best practice management of herd health treatments.

Formal launch

The formal launch of the Australian Wagyu Association Progeny Test Program will take place on Day 1 of the 2021 WagyuEdge annual conference, presented by the Association’s CEO, Dr Matt McDonagh, and the recently-appointed program manager, Laura Penrose.

Dr McDonagh said the 2021-2031 AWA Progeny Test Program was the AWA’s investment back into the Wagyu sector, to underpin the continuous genetic improvement of Japanese Black Wagyu cattle.

“The Australian industry is globally linked, with AWA members from more than 20 countries that can contribute sires to the program. This will allow us to compare and test the full range of diversity in Wagyu genetics from around the world,” Dr McDonagh said.


  • Registrations for the WagyuEdge Annual Conference are almost at capacity, but registrations are still open to virtual delegates. Click here to register.  
  • The Australian Wagyu Association will host a trade site at Beef 2021 in Rockhampton next month, located in the Durack Pavilion. Stakeholders are invited to drop in and learn more from program manager Laura Penrose about the ambitious new project.










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