Production

Breedplan beef up on track

Beef Central, 20/01/2012

Cattle producers will soon be able to more accurately identify animals with superior genetics for a range of commercially important traits.

The Beef CRC and Meat and Livestock Australia have announced that the new genomic predictions for carcase and beef quality, feed efficiency and female fertility traits such as puberty, first-calf re-breeding and lifetime reproductive performance in tropically adapted cattle breeds will be incorporated into Breedplan from May of this year.

The new predictions are expected to improve the accuracy of current estimated breeding values (EBVs) that are based on extensive phenotypic records and pedigree information.

To develop the new predictions the Beef CRC genotyped more than 10,000 research animals and industry sires using the latest DNA super chips. Genomic predictions within breeds were calibrated based on DNA samples from 1300 high accuracy sires across several breeds.

“This is one of the main outcomes of this CRC and we are on track to deliver these predictions, which have been validated in independent cattle populations,” said Beef CRC CEO Dr Heather Burrow.

“The research undertaken by the Beef CRC and its partners will deliver more detailed DNA information on Australian cattle breeds than has ever been achieved.”

The new genomic predictions were developed using Illumina’s new 700K chips and their accuracy will be improved over coming months before they are delivered to BREEDPLAN and genomics companies operating in Australia.

Beef CRC Chief Scientist Professor Mike Goddard said the new 700K chips measured more than 700,000 unique genetic variations (SNPs) within an individual animal’s genome, and across the genomes of multiple animals, to identify the unique genetic attributes linked to the most important production traits.

The Beef CRC has recently completed calibrating the genomic predictions within breeds, based on DNA samples provided from 1300 high-accuracy sires from several breeds.

Dr Burrow said the greatest value for adding genotype information to BREEDPLAN will be for young animals that do not yet have any measurements on them or their progeny or for the very hard or expensive to measure traits that are generally not recorded by industry.

“That is where you have greatest ability to improve the accuracy of predicting that animal’s performance,” she said.

“Producers will then be able to select for these hard to measure traits in young animals, something they have not been able to do up until now.”

How the new “beefed-up” breeding predictions will work

A cattle breeder has a young weaner that does not yet have any ultrasound scanning data. The breeder wants to predict the weaner’s genetic merit for high marbling or beef tenderness, to know whether to put the animal into a breeding program.

The breeder takes a hair sample from the animal and sends it off to his breed society, or directly to a genotyping laboratory that genotypes the animal and sends the results to BREEDPLAN, where the genotypes are combined with other information such as pedigree and recorded measurements on the animal and its relatives.

Using a calibrated mathematical formula, a genomic prediction is made on the animal’s genetic merit for all the BREEDPLAN traits.

The breeder will receive EBVs in exactly the same way as currently occurs, except the EBVs will have an improved accuracy due to the inclusion of the additional validated genomic information.

Source: MLA/Beef CRC

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