Gene tools to help with selection

Getting a handle on genetic merit in Angus herds

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Tools to help commercial Angus producers predict the genetic merit of their stock for drafting into the best management and marketing systems are becoming increasingly popular.

Tools to help commercial Angus producers predict the genetic merit of their stock for drafting into the best management and marketing systems are becoming increasingly popular.

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Commercial Angus producers are investing more in selection tools.

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Commercial Angus producers are increasingly accessing a range of genetic evaluation tools to make more informed decisions about selecting replacement stock and track their herd improvements.

These resources are part of a commitment by Angus Australia (AA) to provide graziers with more resources to continue the breed's development, lift overall industry productivity and boost the quality of meat entering the supply chain.

Producers can already enter non-stud females that have at least 87.5 per cent Angus content to the Angus HeiferSELECT genomic selection program.

And soon they will also be able to use a SteerSELECT system being piloted by AA with feedlots.

This will help to predict the genetic merit of commercial Angus heifers and steers to draft stock into the best production systems suited to their genetics.

Commercial producers have had access to AA's Angus Performance Register (APR) for some time to record pedigree and performance information on non-Herd Book, straight-bred Angus cattle.

In March, AA released its latest integrity program, Angus Verified, that was developed to provide market assurance and integrity by verifying a producer's claim of "Angus" as being the genuine purebred article.

AA breed development and extension manager Andrew Byrne said the TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation was the main genetic service for the breed, with Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) published for 22 traits.

Animals recorded on the APR are included in this evaluation.

HeiferSELECT provides nine traits linked to EBVs and has about 12,000 animals recorded.

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"Uptake of Angus HeiferSELECT has significantly increased in the past 18 months," Mr Byrne said.

"This has been driven by improved cattle prices and recognition by the nation's producers of the value of investing in heifer selection.

"With a vastly improved market, and good seasonal conditions in many grazing areas this year, commercial growers are wanting to make more informed decisions - backed by robust data - as they rebuild their herds.

"With most heifers being retained for breeding, Angus HeiferSELECT is particularly being used to identify heifers for use in artificial insemination programs, or as a drafting tool in different breeding programs, such as straight-bred Angus programs versus Angus-Wagyu F1 breeding programs."

Angus HeiferSELECT

This program provides genetic predictions for nine key maternal, growth and carcase traits, and a total breeding value.

Mr Byrne said the system complemented other sources of information used in commercial replacement heifer selection, such as phenotypic evaluation, age, weight and pedigrees.

It helped to show heifers' genetic potential, particularly for otherwise difficult traits that are time consuming or expensive to measure using traditional tools.

It can be ordered from AA for about $40 a head and is delivered in collaboration with Zoetis Animal Genetics and Neogen Australasia.

Angus SteerSELECT

AA and geneticists from the CSIRO have developed SteerSELECT and are piloting it this year.

This system can predict the genetic merit of commercial Angus steers for selection of animals to go into the most suitable production systems.

Angus Performance Register 

Commercial producers can record the pedigree and performance of non-Herd Book pure stock in AA's APR program and can now obtain EBVs based on DNA, or genomic information, alone.

Mr Byrne said the genomics-only service was available to AA members for about $90/hd.

The genomic information is included in the TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation and used to calculate EBVs for 22 traits.

Pedigree and genomic links between herds enables calculation of EBVs that can be used for across-herd comparisons.

Participants in the TransTasman evaluation get EBV reports after each bi-monthly analysis that documents the genetic potential of animals.

Black or red, straight-bred Angus females or straight-bred Angus bulls, sired by either a HBR or APR-registered sire can be recorded as a Base APR animal.

Angus Verified

Angus Australia's new Angus Verified program records the use of registered Angus sires and aims to help the breed maintain its integrity.

Angus Australia's new Angus Verified program records the use of registered Angus sires and aims to help the breed maintain its integrity.

AA recently launched the Angus Verified program targeting commercial producers.

It records the use of registered Angus sires; declares breeders and animals verified are purebred Angus; and validates that sires - identified by their RFID - are on the right PIC at the time of joining to authenticate their purebred Angus breeding program.

The project roll-out is led by AA commercial supply chain manager, Liz Pearson, who said it would help producers improve their profitability and reputation in the market.

She said it ensured the integrity of black-hided Angus, which boosted confidence and trust right through the supply chain.

"As a buyer, you can have confidence when purchasing Angus Verified cattle - as you can validate their status through the AA database with their RFID," she said.

"Angus Verified producers will also have access to exclusive yellow Angus Verified tags as a visual identifier."

Ms Pearson said AA was collaborating with Aglive Pty Ltd on this program.

Aglive Pty Ltd is an industry-first, paddock-to-plate blockchain-based logistics platform which tracks cattle from birth through life, then tracks products from processing to the consumer's plate - ensuring products are shipped under the right conditions throughout the journey.

  • More information: 02 6773 4600.
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