The Angus Sire Benchmarking Program has notched up 10 years with data collected from 8500 calves by 299 bulls helping develop more accurate estimated breeding values (EBVs) for commercial producers.
The benchmarking program started with 906 Angus calves by 35 Angus sires bred in 2010.
It’s the flagship research and development initiative by Angus Australia with the main aim of building a highly effective reference population of genotypes and phenotypes on contemporary Australian Angus cattle.
Angus Australia’s strategic project manager, Christian Duff, said the program had been particularly valuable for hard-to-measure traits collected on ASBP animals in areas such as beef quality and quantity, female reproduction and immune response.
“The project data also enables effective use of genomic based technologies,” he said.
“The program allows cattle breeders using Angus genetics to stay at the cutting edge of breeding technologies and rates of genetic gain for commercial production and profit.”
The 10-year milestone also coincided with the recent decision to extend the program to include Cohort 9 (2019 born calves), Cohort 10 (2020 born calves) and Cohort 11 (2021 born calves).
Combined with previous Cohorts (1 to 8), this will produce a reference population of more than 12,000 Angus animals from 400 Angus sires.
“Importantly, the progeny are genotyped and their phenotypes comprehensively measured from birth to slaughter for steers and from birth to first parity for heifers.”
As the program outcomes flowed onto the commercial beef industry, the ASBP attracted co-funding support through the MLA Donor Company scheme.
“Partnerships are critical to ASBP. This includes valued support from Angus Australia members nominating bulls, co-operator cow herd owners, supply chain partners such as Rangers Valley feedlot, Vetoquinol for artificial reproduction advice and genotyping companies. Without their support the ASBP would basically not happen,” Mr Duff said.
“Collaboration with research organisations are also vital and involves groups such as the University of New England, CSIRO, NSW DPI and ALMTech.”
Chair of the ASBP consultative committee, Stephen Chase, Waitara Angus, Trangie, said the program had helped ensure Breedplan was a tool breeders could trust.
“It has provided a quality reference population that has phenotypes for many traits. It has provided a population to study new, harder to measure traits including immune competency, retail beef yield, feed efficiency, emissions, structure and other added extras,” he said.
“The ASBP has been a great tool to benchmark my stud and commercial herds. As a bull owner it has allowed me great linkages and therefore increased the usefulness of data submitted from my stud herd.
“The measurements and studies going on within the program are always improving, always adapting, and all that information and knowledge goes directly to improving data collection methods, data analysis and EBVs for the whole Australian Angus breed.”