Is the ultimate beef herd on our doorstep?

Is the ultimate beef herd on our doorstep?

Beef
If we took all the best traits from across all the beef cattle breeds and stacked them together in the one animal, what would it look like? Probably not like this digitally-enhanced image!

If we took all the best traits from across all the beef cattle breeds and stacked them together in the one animal, what would it look like? Probably not like this digitally-enhanced image!

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ARCBA genomics conference taps into global knowledge.

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FORGET breed allegiances, conventional wisdom and matching traits with country and markets.

We may all be running a herd of ‘ultimates’ in the future.

Genomics could well deliver an ultimate beef animal - a combination of the best the top individuals of each breed have to offer across all the commercial traits.

High-geared evaluations of how an animal will breed thanks to the use of advanced DNA technologies has the potential to do just that - and it could all happen far soon than one might imagine.

It’s future gazing talk but scientists at the forefront of genomic research in livestock are partaking in it.

Professor Ben Hayes, from the Queensland-based Centre for Animal Science, will be one the high calibre speakers lined up for a trailblazing conference on genetics and genomic pathways for beef, to be held in Brisbane on July 6.

Professor Ben Hayes, from the Centre for Animal Science in Brisbane.

Professor Ben Hayes, from the Centre for Animal Science in Brisbane.

His ideas of an ultimate beef herd are garnering enormous interest across both the seedstock and commercial beef production sectors.

Genomics, he said, was extending EBVs (estimated breeding values) far beyond their current capabilities and we should certainly be factoring it in when thinking about where we could be in ten years time.

“Genomics are identifying which bits of DNA are important to have in every step of the genome,” Prof Hayes said.

“It’s inherited in chunks and the real power in genomics, which we are just starting to realise, is we can work out what are the best chunks to have from each key bull.

“And we can think about stacking those together to breed the ultimate animal.

“We can pick the best of the fertility, growth and meat quality traits across all the breeds.”

Anna Campbell, managing director of New Zealand agribusiness consulting business Abacusbio.

Anna Campbell, managing director of New Zealand agribusiness consulting business Abacusbio.

Organised by the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders’ Association (ARCBA), the genomics conference will also include presentations from Anna Campbell, managing director of New Zealand agribusiness consulting business Abacusbio.

A specialist in using commercially focused science to improve agricultural food products, she will speak on the role of genetics in beef supply chain development.

Internationally-recognised leader in livestock genetics Dr Tad Sonstegard, chief scientific officer of United States precision breeding technology company Acceligen, will also appear.

ARCBA president Dr Arthur Rickards said genomics was the topic currently on everybody’s lips.

“Enthusiastic scientists have been talking about this for a number of years,” he said.

“Genomics is obviously technology that can accelerate things immensely but we have to boil it down to commercial reality.

“People are trying to work out what initiatives they need to be taking - we need to understand what we should be doing to benefit from it.

Internationally-recognised leader in livestock genetics Dr Tad Sonstegard.

Internationally-recognised leader in livestock genetics Dr Tad Sonstegard.

“This is a short but futuristic conference which aims to tap into the knowledge of some very experienced people.”

The conference will be held at the Riverside Hotel in South Brisbane.

For details email arcba@abri.une.edu.au.

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