Summer 2013 SBTS & TBTS Update

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BIN Programs Collecting Valuable Feed Efficiency Information


he progeny test programs being conducted by several breed societies as part of the Beef Information Nucleus (BIN) are leading the way for the collection of valuable information relating to the genetic differences between animals for feed efficiency.

Beef Information Nucleus progeny test programs are presently being conducted by Angus Australia, the Australian Brahman Breeders Association, the Charolais Society of Australia, Herefords Australia, the Australian Limousin Breeders Society and the Australia Wagyu Association with the assistance of funding from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Donor Company, participating co-operator herds, bull suppliers and various industry partners. Feed efficiency information to date has been collected within the Angus, Hereford and Limousin programs, with collection of feed efficiency data scheduled for collection shortly in the Charolais program. The progeny test programs represent a significant commitment by each participating breed organisation in striving for continuous improvement in profitability through investment in performance recording and the application of genetic technologies. This investment includes a significant commitment to research and development, particularly to generate the potential to achieve genetic improvement in difficult to measure profitability drivers traits such as fertility, feed efficiency, and end-product quality. Within the BIN programs, elite sires in each breed are evaluated in a structured progeny test program in co-operator herds located across Australia. All progeny are comprehensively performance recorded across a range of commercially important traits, which in turn collects valuable information regarding the genetics of each sire. In the case of the feed efficiency information being collected within the Angus, Hereford and Limousin programs, following a grow-out and backgrounding phase, the steer progeny are re-located to the newly established GrowSafe feed intake facility at the University of New England’s Tullimba feedlot at Kingstown NSW. After an

Figure 1 - GrowSafe equipment at Tullimba feedlot, used to measure feed intake and efficiency of steers within the BIN progeny test programs

acclimatisation period, steers are fed for a 70-day testing period within the Tullimba facility (see Figure 1). During the test period, complete recording of feed intake is conducted through the Growsafe system along with regular body weights recorded at the water points using Growsafe Beef equipment. In addition, manual weights are currently taken at the start, end, and at fortnightly intervals during the test period to assist in the calibration of serial weights taken from the GrowSafe Beef equipment. Feed intake and serial weight data is then used to calculate Net Feed Intake (NFI -F) values for each steer measured through the GrowSafe system (see Figure 2 over page). NFI-F is a measure of residual feed intake after adjustment for differences in average body weight maintained and growth rate through the test period. Animals with negative NFI-F values have consumed less feed than expected based on their growth rate and average body weight. Animals with positive NFI-F values have consumed more feed that expected for their growth performance and average body weight.

“SBTS & TBTS provide A national extension network for genetic technologies for the Australian beef seedstock industry” 1



UPDATE in this issue BIN Programs Collecting Valuable Feed Efficiency Information


AGBU R&D Priorities for Beef Industry Genetic Improvement 3 Variation in Lifetime Annual Weaning Rate in Tropical Cattle


SBTS & TBTS Get Social


TBTS Staff Honoured With Awards


Monthly GROUP BREEDPLAN Analyses for Shorthorn, Simmental & South Devon


Calibration of Beef CRC Prediction Equations Now Completed


The Genetics of Polledness


BullSELECT Workshops Available


Viewing “Across Country” Selection Index Values


New & Improved Australian Poll Gene Marker Test Now Available


“Staying Ahead of the Curve” Webinar Presentations Now Available Online


Dr Deon Goosen Appointed Managing Director of ABRI


Optimise Joining Using MateSel


Enhancements Made to GROUP BREEDPLAN Analyses for Santa Gertrudis and Charolais


New Selection Indexes for Murray Grey


Accessing Support in Application of Genetic Technologies


In the testing conducted to date, large differences in NFI-F between animals have been observed. Figure 3 shows the distribution of NFI-F values among the steers from the first cohort of the Angus BIN project. Whilst most steers had a NFI-F value close to zero (i.e. actual feed intake close to expectation) some steers consumed up to 3 kg/ day less than expected for their growth rate and body weight maintained, whilst other steers consumed up to 3 kg/day more than expected.

Figure 2 - Calculation of Net feed Intake from weight, growth rate and feed intake data.

Providing sufficient information exists, individual Figure 3 - Distribution of Net feed Intake among NFI-F values for each steer cohort 1 Angus BIN steers. are then used to calculate differences in Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for NFI-F among the sires of the steer progeny. The EBVs and their accuracy values are calculated by the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) using existing BREEDPLAN software for feed efficiency. In calculating the EBVs, the NFI-F information for each steer is appropriately adjusted for the impact of differences in property of origin, management group, age, and age of dam whilst taking into account any pedigree relationships among the sires. Figure 4 shows the NFI-F EBVs for each of the 35 sires with steer progeny recorded in cohort 1 of the Angus BIN project, with an average of 10 progeny measured per sire. As demonstrated in the figure, genetic differences of 1.43 kg/day were evident between the top and bottom Angus sire with progeny in this cohort.

Figure 4 - Net Feed Intake (NFI-F) Estimated Breeding Values and Accuracies of sires represented in first cohort of the Angus BIN steers.

In addition to providing valuable information on genetic differences between elite sires for feed efficiency, the information being collected within the BIN programs will provide a valuable R&D resource for the possible future development of genomic breeding values. This information will contribute to the ongoing improvement of feed efficiency and profitability in the Australian beef herd, particularly within those breeds actively participating in BIN progeny test programs. Adapted from a paper presented by P. Parnell at the 2013 ALFA BeefWorks Conference, Kerwee Feedlot, Jondaryan, QLD, 23 - 24 October 2013. 2

AGBU R&D Priorities for Beef Industry Genetic Improvement By Dr Rob Banks, Director, AGBU


GBU, the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit, a joint research unit of University of New England and NSW DPI - contributes to genetic improvement in the Australian beef industry through research aimed at helping breeders and producers identify animals with the best genes for profitable beef production, and to make the best use of those animals in cost-effective bull-breeding and commercial production enterprises.


New methods of handling information on animals is now heavily focussed on the best way to use DNA information within the BREEDPLAN genetic evalaution. AGBU has played a key role in the Beef CRC Research which helped build our initial understanding of such data and its use. AGBU is now working on evolving BREEDPLAN to be able to use pedigree, performance data and genotype information (from DNA tests) simultaneously, in what is known as the Single Step approach.

AGBU receives significant funding from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to support this work, along with inputs and assistance from ABRI, Breed Societies, bull breeders and other stakeholders in Australia’s beef supply chains. The priorities for AGBU’s work program are established through a combination of consultation with industry directly, with service partners such as ABRI and breed societies, as well as through an MLA-AGBU Beef Genetics Consultative Committee, which is chaired by MLA Director, Lucinda Corrigan. Lucinda has a long history in the beef seedstock sector and alongside her husband Bryan, runs the Rennylea Angus seedstock operation in southern NSW.

This is the most accurate way of using DNA information, and overcomes the need to separately train and then validate DNA prediction equations as is done currently. Implementation of Single Step will make combining pedigree, performance and DNA data seamless from the point of view of the bull-breeder, and the output will be EBVs that properly incorporate whatever DNA information is available. Building on these two areas of work, AGBU is working on ways of understanding the value of different sorts of records – performance data, DNA data – to help breeders and breeds design their breeding programs with the right balance of cost, results and risk. This will become increasingly important as the uptake of genomic tools is expected to grow over the coming years.

AGBU plays a major role in developing the BREEDPLAN technology, including adding new traits and new ways of using information collected on animals, whether that be pedigree, performance data or genomic information. Thus the outputs of the work are the EBVs and $Indexes used by hundreds of bull breeders across Australia and overseas, and guidance on how best to design breeding programs at the herd and breed level.

Overall, the AGBU R&D priorities are consistent with the MLA goals for genetics and genomics R&D and extension of ensuring that:

These two areas of work are the main focus of our current R&D priorities. New traits under development right now include: n

new fertility traits, especially for the breeds and composites used in northern Australia


better ways of handling feed intake and costs,


the relationships between production traits such as growth rate and carcase merit, and traits such as fertility and cow longevity


handling methane production, both as a potential direct cost to beef enterprises in the future and as an indication of feed energy not used by the animal

and generally, ensuring that the genetic analysis reflects the cattle we have today – an example being to adjust carcase traits such as fat and eye muscle to the heavier carcase weights typical of industry today


bull buyers can make informed choices in buying bulls; by making sure that BREEDPLAN is as accurate as possible for traits that impact profit and enterprise sustainability


bull breeders know how to use BREEDPLAN to make as rapid genetic progress as possible.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding these R&D priorities, please do not hesitate to contact: Rob Banks, Director, AGBU, or Lucinda Corrigan, Chair MLA-AGBU Beef Genetics Consultative Committee, 3

Variation in Lifetime Annual Weaning Rate in Tropical Cattle


major research project within the Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies (Beef CRC) has provided very useful information on the success of lifetime production in Brahmans and Tropical Composites in Northern Australia. One of the primary objectives of the Beef CRC project was to investigate what effect genetics had on the lifetime annual weaning rate of females and consequently what opportunities may exist to improve fertility rates in Northern Australia through genetic improvement.

Project Design A total of 2137 cows were involved in the project (1020 Brahmans and 1117 Tropical Composites (TC)). The cows were bred on 7 co-operator properties (4 Brahman and 3 TC) and at “Belmont Research Station” which bred both Brahman and TC. Genetic linkage, across properties of origin and year within genotypes was generated by the use of AI. The cows were generated over 4 and 3 years for Brahmans and TC respectively. The cows were allocated according to genotype, property of origin and sire to one of the following four properties “Toorak” Julia Creek, “Belmont” Rockhampton, “Swans Lagoon” Ayr and “Brian Pastures” Gayndah at weaning. Belmont and Toorak ran both Brahman and Tropical Composites while Brian Pastures only had Tropical Composites and Swans Lagoon with the harsher environment only had Brahmans.

Results Lifetime Annual Weaning Rates The research showed that the lifetime annual weaning rate of the Brahman females involved in the project (1020 cows) was 60%, with 72% of cows being present at the end of the project after 6 matings (717 cows). The annual weaning rate of the TC females involved in the project (1117 cows) was 73%, with 83% of cows present after 6 matings (898 cows).

The project continued until all the cows were around 8.5 years of age and had been given the opportunity to have 6 calves and were mated for the 7th time. The cows stayed in the project unless they failed to wean a calf in 2 connective years or were culled on management decisions (eg. temperament, udder etc.) Cows were naturally mated for 12 weeks and during this period the cows were ovarian/pregnancy scanned at 4 week intervals from joining by the use of real time ultrasound by an experienced scanner. The cows were also scanned a further 4 times after mating and prior to calving. These were half way between mating and weaning, weaning, half way between weaning and pre calving and around 3 weeks prior to calving. Other data collected at each scan was live weight, condition score and a P8 fat measurement.

Further analysis of the lifetime weaning rate results revealed an annual calf loss of 10% between calving and weaning across all animals involved in the project in both the Brahman and TC females (2137 cows). When looking at only the females that were retained in the project until the end, there was an annual calf loss to weaning of 5% for both Brahmans and TC. It must be mentioned that about 40% of the Brahman females were run on the harsher conditions at Swans Lagoon. The calving rate and weaning rate results for both the Brahman and TC cows are displayed in Figure 1 (over the page).

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Figure 1 - Calving Rate & Weaning Rate for all cows and those that remained in the project at Mating 6

Figure 2 - Difference in lifetime weaning rate EBV between top and bottom Brahman sires in % more calves per year

Genetic Effects

breeds by focusing recording and selection on early in life female reproduction traits. Several traits recorded at the first two matings had moderate to high genetic correlation with lifetime reproduction. The measurements that are correlated with lifetime reproduction range from ultrasound scanning for conception, to manual palpation for pregnancy, to observation of a calf being born, and the number of days after mating that the calf is born.

Results from the Beef CRC research indicate lifetime annual weaning rate was under some genetic control with heritability estimates for lifetime annual weaning rate of 0.11 in Brahman and 0.07 in TC. Further analysis revealed that there was a 13% difference due to genetics in lifetime annual weaning rate between the top and bottom Brahman sire included in the research trial based on the weaning rates of their daughters (as shown in Figure 2). The difference in lifetime annual weaning rate between sires in TC was not as large as the Brahmans with a 4% difference between the top and bottom sires.

Importantly, the results also showed that days to calving is highly correlated with these measurements and producers using Days to Calving EBVs in their selection will also improve


early and lifetime reproduction. Opportunities consequently exist to improve lifetime weaning rates in tropical cattle by collecting accurate birth and female reproductive performance information with BREEDPLAN for the calculation of Days to Calving EBVs (particularly reproductive information for maiden heifers and first calf cows), and careful consideration of Days to Calving EBVs when selecting both sires and dams for use within a breeding program.

The results emphasise the substantial opportunity that exists to improve lifetime annual weaning rates in tropical beef cattle

Further information is available from Paul Williams at TBTS in Rockhampton on (07) 4927 6066 or

Total calves weaned from matings 1 and 2 were moderately to highly correlated with both lifetime calving and lifetime weaning rate in both Brahman and TC, indicating that a considerable proportion of differences in lifetime weaning rate can be explained by differences in the weaning rate from the first two matings.

SBTS & TBTS Get Social

eef producers can keep up to date with the latest developments in genetic technologies and the activities of SBTS and TBTS by following SBTS and TBTS on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Information is routinely posted on Twitter and Facebook such as articles, webinars and event details, while the YouTube channel contains video presentations such as webinars from past webinar series and short “Understanding BREEDPLAN EBVs� video clips.


or go directly to the SBTS & TBTS Facebook account at http://, Twitter account at SBTSTBTS or YouTube Channel at sbtstbts.

To follow SBTS and TBTS on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube simply go to the SBTS or TBTS website and click on the relevant icon,




TBTS Staff Honoured With Awards


oth current and past staff of TBTS have been honoured over recent months with industry awards.

John Bertram was honoured for his contribution to the beef industry in Northern Australia when presented with the NABRC medal for Extension/Communication at the Northern Australia Beef Research Update Conference (NBRUC) in Cairns during August. When being presented with this award, John was described as having played a pivotal role in ‘translating’ the findings from major research programs such as the Beef CRC and Bull Power into practical selection and management strategies for stud and commercial producers, and being without peer in northern Australia in the field of practical genetic improvement and bull selection. Craig Croker received the NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Acknowledgement Award in a Gala dinner in Canberra in October after being selected to represent NSW as one of seven finalists in the NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Initiative. All at SBTS and TBTS congratulate John and Craig on receiving these prestigious accolades.

Monthly GROUP BREEDPLAN Analyses for Shorthorn, Simmental & South Devon


horthorn Beef, the Australian Simmental Breeders Association and South Devon Cattle Breeders Association have joined the Angus, Brahman, Brangus, Charolais, Droughtmaster, Hereford, Limousin, Murray Grey,

Red Angus, Santa Gertrudis and Wagyu breeds in upgrading the software used to manage their pedigree and performance database to ABRI’s new generation of breed registry software known as ILR2. The new software includes several new features such as the running of monthly GROUP BREEDPLAN analyses and production of enhanced BREEDPLAN reports. This will significantly enhance the BREEDPLAN service that is provided to members of Shorthorn, Simmental and South Devon BREEDPLAN. It is anticipated that the Devon Cattle Breeders Society and Blonde d’Aquitaine Society will upgrade to the ILR2 software in early 2014


Calibration of Beef CRC Prediction Equations Now Completed


he important calibration step of the Beef CRC genomic prediction equations has recently been completed by the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) at the University of New England. In association with this, a recommendation report has been supplied to all breed societies where calibration tests could be conducted. This report includes breed specific advice on the possible future incorporation of the Beef CRC genomic prediction equations into the respective BREEDPLAN analyses. As background, the Beef CRC genomic prediction equations were developed by the Beef CRC using Illumina’s 700K SNP profile which measures more than 700,000 unique genetic variants (SNPs) within an individual animal’s genome. The Beef CRC used the genomic profiles and a large phenotypic database to provide an estimate of an animal’s genetic value for a range of carcass and eating quality, feed efficiency and female fertility traits. It was hoped that the genomic prediction equations would produce Genomic Estimated Breeding Values (GEBVs) explaining up to 15% of the genetic variance for each trait in specific breeds, although this is likely to vary depending on the trait and the breed of animal being tested. This is equivalent to an EBV with 40% accuracy.

being Days to Calving and Scrotal Size. For Brahmans, the calibration indicated the GEBVs had accuracies up to 40%.

The Beef CRC prediction equations were developed using a defined set of animals that had both genotypes (e.g. SNP profile) and phenotypes (e.g. weights, carcase traits, reproduction records) recorded. This is known as the “training” dataset. To follow industry best practice, the prediction equations were then “calibrated” (also termed “validated”) by AGBU using an independent set of animals where possible.

There were limited amounts of additional phenotypic abattoir carcase and net feed efficiency data available for calibration purposes. Accuracies of the GEBVs for these traits are therefore unknown at this stage.


If a breed or breed group does not have related animals and their associated genotypes and phenotypes in the training dataset then it is very likely the accuracy of the GEBV will be 0%. This highlights the importance of the calibration step being performed before the GEBVs can be used with confidence in an individual breed’s BREEDPLAN analysis.

Each breed society which was provided with a recommendation report from AGBU is now considering if, how and when they progress to incorporating the GEBVs from the Beef CRC genomic prediction equations into their BREEDPLAN analysis. This includes further consultation with AGBU, BREEDPLAN and Technical Officers within the SBTS and TBTS teams.

The calibration work undertaken by AGBU showed that in general: n


It is widely recognised that the best method to utilise genomic based information (e.g. prediction equations) for production traits is via incorporation into existing genetic evaluation programs such as BREEDPLAN. The greatest value of the genomic information is for young animals that do not yet have any measurements on themselves or their progeny, for the very hard or expensive to measure traits that are generally not recorded by industry or in small herds where it may be difficult to collect effective performance information. These scenarios present the greatest opportunity to improve the accuracy of predicting that animal’s breeding value.

Most breeds had reasonable amounts of phenotypic weight data to accommodate the requirements of the calibration process. The calibration indicated the GEBVs had accuracies for the weight traits of up to 30% for most breeds.

n There

was a limited amount of phenotypic female reproduction data available. Further, this reproduction data was available for the tropical breeds only. The GEBVs for Age at Puberty and Post-Partum Anoestrus Interval were calibrated against the fertility related BREEDPLAN EBVs 7

The Genetics of Polledness


The possible genotypes and their corresponding phenotypic expressions are shown in Table 1.

olledness, or the absence of horns, is an important trait being actively selected for within many beef breeding programs across Australia. Breeding polled cattle provides a permanent solution to many of the problems associated with horned cattle, including easier handling of stock, reduced bruising, reduced risk of injury to stock handlers, reduced labour costs and reduced concerns regarding the animal welfare issues associated with dehorning.

Table 1 - Possible Phenotypes and the Corresponding Genotypes for Polledness Phenotype Poll Horned Scurred

Importantly, breeding for polled cattle is not as simple as just using visually polled bulls within a breeding program and for this reason, a number of tools now exist that enable producers to transition to a polled herd relatively quickly. One of these tools is the Australian Poll Gene Marker test that was initially released by the Beef CRC in 2010. This DNA based test has recently been greatly enhanced by the CSIRO, with

Possible Genotypes PP, Ph hh PP, Ph

Breeding for Polledness - The Theory Because animals possess two alleles for polledness, it is possible that their phenotype does not reflect their underlying genotype. For example a polled or scurred animal may be heterozygous polled (Ph), possessing one polled and one horned allele, or homozygous polled, possessing two polled alleles. In scenarios where the polled animal is heterozygous polled, their progeny will on average, inherit a horned allele, rather than a polled allele, 50% of the time.

the assistance of funding from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), and now has considerably greater accuracy than the previous test.

The Genetics of Polledness

The effect of this when breeding for polledness is demonstrated in the following scenario where two polled bulls, one being homozygous polled and the other heterozygous polled, are joined to a herd of horned cows.

Unlike many traits of importance to beef producers, polledness is a qualitative trait controlled entirely by genetics, with nongenetic factors having no influence on the polled status of an animal. Animals can either be polled, horned or scurred (small horns not attached to the skull), although considerable variation in expression is observed within these three different phenotypes. The genetics of polledness is thought to be controlled by only a few genes, with the polled gene thought to be located in a region of the animal’s DNA on chromosome 1. Two basic alleles (ie. different forms of gene) have been identified for the polled gene, the polled allele and the horned allele, with each animal inheriting two alleles for polledness, one coming from each parent. The polled allele is dominant over the horned allele, so that only animals which are homozygous horned (ie. inherit two horned alleles – referred to as hh) will be horned. Animals that are homozygous polled (ie. inherit two polled alleles – referred to as PP) or are heterozygous polled (ie. inherit one polled and one horned allele – referred to as Pp) will be either polled or scurred. The scurs gene (Sc) interacts with the polled gene and is only expressed when the poll allele is present (e.g. in animals with the genotype PP or Ph). The expression of the scurs gene is also sex dependant, so that males only need one copy of the scurs allele to be phenotypically expressed (Scsc or ScSc) whereas females need two copies (ScSc).

In the first scenario, a homozygous polled sire (PP) is joined to horned cows (hh) with the resulting offspring all being heterozygous polled, and being all either polled or scurred. If the resulting polled or scurred heifers (ie. 100% of heifers) are then mated with a homozygous polled sire (PP) then all 8

offspring will also be either polled or scurred, with 50% of them homozygous polled and no longer carrying the horned gene.

Importantly, breeding for polledness should always be balanced with selection for other traits of economic and functional importance within the breeding objective. Simply selecting for polledness without any consideration of other important traits is not recommended as it may potentially compromise the genetics of animals for these other traits.

By contrast, in the second scenario, a heterozygous polled sire (Ph) is joined to horned cows (hh), with 50% of the resulting offspring being polled or scurred and 50% being horned (hh). If the resultant polled heifers (Ph) are then mated to a heterozygous polled sire (Ph), 75% of the resultant progeny will be either polled or scurred and 25% will be horned. Importantly, only 25% of the progeny will be homozygous polled and no longer carrying the horned gene (PP).

DNA Tests for Polledness A number of DNA tests are available that enable breeders to determine whether a polled animal is homozygous polled or heterozygous polled. The precise location of the polled gene has not yet been identified, and so the DNA tests indirectly detect the polled gene though linked gene markers. No markers for the scurred gene have been identified as yet.

Breeding for Polledness - The Practical Breeders wishing to increase the number of polled animals within their herd can achieve the desired outcome in a variety of ways, however the pathway chosen will significantly affect both the time taken and the cost that is incurred.

The tests currently available are predominantly available through the Animal Genetics Lab (AGL) at the University of Queensland and Zoetis Animal Genetics. Both the AGL and Zoetis Animal Genetics offer the Australian Poll Gene Marker Test initially developed by the Beef CRC, while the AGL also offer tests developed in the United States by GeneSeek (previously Igenity). A number of overseas DNA labs also offer tests in some breeds.

As with other traits, individual sires contribute proportionally more to the genetics of the herd and so careful selection of sires with polled genetics results in the biggest gains. This may involve use of polled bulls as a basic principle, but as the previous scenarios indicate, where available, use of sires that have been identified by a DNA test as being homozygous polled will greatly increase the speed by which a herd can transition to a polled herd.

Further information regarding the Australian Poll Gene Marker Test is included in the article on page 12. Should you wish to further discuss either breeding for polledness or the utilisations of the DNA tests that are available, contact staff at SBTS or TBTS

Breeders who are able to apply a level of selection pressure to their cow herd can also use the same philosophies that have been outlined for bulls. Retaining only polled or scurred females will increase the frequency of polled genes within the herd, while giving priority to polled females that have been identified by DNA test as being homozygous polled will maximise the rate of polled gene introgression into the herd.

References:1. “The Australian Poll Gene Marker Test” Fact Sheet, CRC for Beef Genetic Technologies, (2012), Accessed November 2013 http://www.beefcrc. com/publications/fact-sheets.html. 2. “Transitioning to a Polled Herd” Fact Sheet, CRC for Beef Genetic Technologies, (2012), Accessed November 2013


BullSELECT Workshops Available


attle breeders generally purchase bulls on only one or a few days of the year, but the effect of their bull selection decisions will last for generations within their herd. With an increasing range of technologies and information available on sale day, selecting the right bull may seem a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. The BullSELECT workshop educates beef breeders about how to use the available tools to select the best bull for their enterprise. Technical Officer within the SBTS project, Christian Duff, outlined that the BullSELECT workshop package includes a mix of interactive discussions and presentations covering topics such as the understanding the value of genetics, interpreting BREEDPLAN EBVs and using online searches including a smartphone or tablet app to source the right genetics.

James Pearce (Yavenvale Herefords) and Christian Duff discussing bull selection with the participants at the Yavenvale BullSELECT workshop, Wagga, Wagga, NSW.

One of the workshop highlights is the hands on, practical session that allows workshop attendees to put what they had learnt throughout the day into practice during the running of a mock helmsman auction. In groups of 3 or 4 people, participants are asked to purchase bulls during the mock auction using a breeding scenario and budget. Following the auction each group then discusses their purchase outcome with the rest of the group. Christian said that the mock auction is always a very interesting session with much interaction and debate, particularly regarding which syndicate received the best value for money from their purchase.

Christian Duff discussing the BREEDPLAN EBVs of a sire at Kenny’s Creek Angus, Boorowa, NSW.

Christian said that the BullSELECT workshop package, formally known as “Closer to Your Clients”, had been proven by time to be a very popular and effective education initiative. SBTS and TBTS have undertaken 64 BullSELECT workshops across Australia and New Zealand since its inception in 2007. The workshop program has been revised along the way to ensure it includes the latest information and technology.

Livestock Solutions. The host seedstock enterprises from both locations included: n

Ardcairnie Angus, Kojonup, WA


Lawsons Angus, Esperance, WA


Jutland Park Red Angus, Serpentine, WA

In 2013, six BullSELECT workshops have been facilitated


Monterey Murray Greys, Karridale, WA

including a series of 4 workshops undertaken in Western Australia in conjunction with the Western Australian State Department of Agriculture and Food. A further two workshops were facilitated in central NSW for training groups of AJM


Yavenvale Herefords, Wagga Wagga, NSW


Kenny’s Creek Angus, Boorowa, NSW

SBTS and TBTS are offering individual seedstock breeders, groups of seedstock breeders, private consultants or State Departments of Agriculture with the opportunity to host a BullSELECT workshop. Anyone interested in hosting a BullSELECT workshop can contact staff at SBTS or TBTS to register their expression of interest. Further information, including a workshop program, is available from either the SBTS ( or TBTS websites (http://tbts. 10

Viewing “Across Country” Selection Index Values


eedstock producers interested in selecting animals from overseas for use within their breeding programs and/or marketing their animals into overseas countries should be aware of a facility available on the BreedObject website ( that may be of great assistance.

Select animal/s of interest on Internet Solutions EBV Enquiry System

The facility allows Australian breeders to view Australian selection index values for animals of interest of the same breed that are recorded with overseas Breed Societies (eg. New Zealand, United Kingdom) and vice versa, for interested

Click “Link to BreedObject with These Animals” at the bottom of the search results page

Calculating Across Country Indexes

international clients to view overseas selection indexes for Australian animals of the same breed that they may be considering for use within their program. This provides a powerful tool when marketing and selecting animals across countries.

Click “Choose Index” and select the tick boxes of the selection indexes that you wish to view Click “Next - See Animals Ranked By Chosen $Indexes

Viewing Across Country Selection Indexes The first step involves choosing the individual animal or group of animals of potential interest. The easiest way to do this is to go to the Internet Solutions EBV enquiry system for the relevant Breed Society and enter the appropriate search criteria that will select the animal/s that you are interested in. After conducting the search and being presented with a table listing the animals you have chosen, you then need to click on the link immediately below the table titled “Link to BreedObject with these animals”. This will transfer the group of animals you have chosen to the BreedObject website.

need to choose the selection indexes that you are interested in viewing by clicking on the tick boxes Once you have ticked the selection indexes you require, simply click on the button at the bottom of the screen titled “Next – See Animals Ranked by Chosen $Indexes” and the relevant selection indexes will be calculated and displayed for the animals selected previously.

Using Across Country Selection Indexes

Note that the EBV enquiry system for relevant breeds and countries can be quickly accessed by clicking on the “Database Search” link on the BREEDPLAN website (http://breedplan. Further information in using the EBV enquiry facility is provided on the Booklet page within the Technical section of the BREEDPLAN website in a booklet titled “A Guide to Internet Solutions”.

When viewing across country selection indexes for an animal, it is important to note that the across country selection indexes are only directly comparable to the selection index values of animals whose EBVs have been calculated within the same genetic evaluation. For example, when viewing Australian index values for New Zealand animals whose EBVs have been calculated within a joint TransTasman GROUP BREEDPLAN evaluation. If the EBVs for the animal have been calculated in a separate evaluation, the across country selection indexes enable you to rank animals on that selection index, but the index values are not directly comparable to the index values that are calculated as part of the routine genetic evaluation.

Once you have chosen the animals that you are interested in and transferred them to the BreedObject website using the process described, calculating the across country selection indexes for the animals is a relatively easy process. The only remaining step is to choose the selection index (or selection indexes) that you wish to view. To do this, click on the “Choose Index” button at the top of the page. A list of the Selection Indexes that can potentially be calculated for the animals you have chosen is then displayed, from which you

Further information regarding across country selection indexes is available in the “Across Country Selection Indexes” tip sheet that is available from the Tip Sheets page in the Technical area of the BREEDPLAN website. 11

New & Improved Australian Poll Gene Marker Test Now Available


Which breeds can use the new test?

greatly enhanced version of the Australian Poll Gene Marker test is now available to beef producers who are interested in increasing the frequency of polled genetics within their herd.

The test can now be used with a high degree of confidence across a range of tropical and temperate breeds including Brahman, Santa Gertrudis, Tropical Composite, Brangus, Droughtmaster, Hereford, Limousin, Shorthorn, Simmental and Charolais. Research conducted to date has demonstrated that the test will return an informative result for the vast majority of animals tested. The table below outlines the number of animals by breed that were tested in the research project, and the proportion of animals for which the test returned an informative result.

The Australian Poll Gene Marker test was initially developed by the Beef CRC and released to industry in 2010. The test enables breeders to determine whether a polled animal is homozygous polled (or “true polled”) and carries two copies of the polled allele, or whether it is heterozygous polled and a carrier of the recessive horn allele. Identifying breeding animals that carry two copies of the polled allele will dramatically increase the proportion of polled genetics within a herd.

The test has potential application in a variety of other breeds, including cross-bred herds, and producers should contact the service laboratories for advice on the applicability of the test for their herd.

How does the new test differ to the previous Beef CRC test? The initial test developed by the Beef CRC was based on a single DNA marker. In some breeds such as Brahman, an allele at this marker was almost always associated with polled and other alleles always associated with horned, so the test worked very well. In other breeds, some alleles had associations with both horned and polled and consequently, the test could not accurately distinguish between homozygous polled and heterozygous polled animals.

Breed Brahman Brangus Charolais Droughtmaster Hereford Limousin Santa Gertrudis Shorthorn Simmental

The new Australian Poll Gene Marker test uses the same marker as the initial test but also incorporates information from nine other markers close by in the genome. The genotype information from all ten markers is combined to create a ‘haplotype’ to more accurately track the origin of alleles and associate them with being horned or polled. The additional marker information increases the proportion of animals for which the test returns an informative result, and also increases the accuracy of those results.

Number Tested

Informative Result

299 101 65 102 174 297 225 167 118

81% 89% 89% 77% 96% 95% 92% 94% 93%

What is the accuracy of the test? For those animals where the test returns an informative result, this result is highly accurate (above 98% in the majority of cases). Only results with an accuracy value above 90% will be returned to the breeder. For those animals where the test cannot return an informative result (that is, the accuracy is not above 90%), no result will be returned.

How can the new test be accessed? The test will be offered commercially by two service providers in Australia; the Animal Genetics Laboratory at The University of Queensland, and Zoetis Animal Genetics. The test can be obtained directly from the service providers or through the relevant breed association or society offices. The cost of the test will be set by the individual service providers but is expected to be in the magnitude of $20-$30 per animal and can be performed using hair, blood, tissue or semen samples. 12

How will the results be reported from the new test? An example of the test result is displayed in Figure 1. The results will describe the percentage chance of the most likely genotype, with the possible genotypes being reported including homozygous polled (PP), heterozygous polled (Ph) or homozygous horned (hh). The accuracy of the test result will be reported alongside the most likely genotype. This accuracy will range from 90% to 99%. For animals where the test cannot return an informative result (that is, the accuracy of the prediction is less than 90%) the result will be returned as ND (Not Determined).

References: Meat and Livestock Australia (2013), “The Australian Poll Gene Marker Test”, Animal Health and Welfare Fact Sheet


Ahead of the Curve” Webinar Presentations Now Available Online


ver the past year, several new tools have been released which give beef breeding herds the unique opportunity to stay “ahead of the curve” by using advanced skills and technologies to set themselves apart. An insight into these new tools was presented at the recent “Staying Ahead of the Curve” webinar course where participants were both informed and empowered with the knowledge they needed to take advantage of the latest tools and technologies. Comprised of 4 one hour presentations delivered via the internet during July, the webinar course was presented by staff from Southern Beef Technology Services (SBTS) and Tropical Beef Technology Services (TBTS). The webinar course was well attended with a total audience of 170 people and 98 unique seedstock enterprises.

Know” in September, covering the basics of performance recording and the BREEDPLAN analysis for new BREEDPLAN members. This webinar had 40 attendees, with a wide range of of breeds and regions represented.

The topics presented during the webinar course included: 1. Perfect Match - Using MateSel to Identify the Best Sires for Your Cows 2. Online Power - Getting the most from Internet Solutions and the INSolutions Mobile App 3. Performance Recording Understanding Completeness of Performance Report

All presentations from the “Staying Ahead of the Curve” webinar course and “BREEDPLAN - What You Need to Know” webinar can now be viewed from the webinars page of the SBTS (http:// and TBTS ( websites.


4. Genomics - The Current State of Play for Seedstock Herds

From either the SBTS or TBTS homepages, select “Webinars” from the left hand menu and then click on the title of the presentation of interest.

The “Staying Ahead of the Curve” webinar course was followed by a one-off webinar “BREEDPLAN – What Your Need to


Dr Deon Goosen Appointed Managing Director of ABRI


he Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) has a new Managing Director with the appointment of Dr Deon Goosen.

Mr Coates said that

Mr Anthony Coates, Chairman of the ABRI Board of Directors

a new outlook to

the appointment of Dr Goosen brought ABRI and positioned

welcomed the appointment and said “Dr Goosen brings a wide range of skills and experience to the role and ABRI is fortunate

the company well

to have been able to appoint a person of Dr Goosen’s calibre”.




Dr Goosen has most recently been Deputy Director of the



information services

Julius Kruttshnitt Mineral Research Centre at the University

that the company

of Queensland. Prior to this he has worked at the Roslin


Institute in the UK and the Sugar CRC in Brisbane, focusing on


commercialisation and technology transfer of various research


delivers livestock

industry around the



Dr Goosen’s undergraduate science training was at the

The appointment of Dr Goosen follows the decision by Mr

University of New England (UNE) in the early 1990’s. He

Murray Scholz to step down as Managing Director in July 2013

studied quantitative genetics under UNE’s Professor Brian Kinghorn and was awarded a PhD in 1997. Dr Goosen also

due to personal circumstances requiring him to relocate to

has a MBA from the Queensland University of Technology

Albury. Mr Scholz will remain with the company within the

focusing on New Venture Management and Marketing.

Software Development Division.

Optimise Joining Using MateSel


eedstock members in Australia are encouraged to consider using the MateSel mating optimisation tool when planning their upcoming joinings.

choosing acceptable inbreeding limits by selecting one of three breeding strategies, “Genetic Diversity”, “Balanced” or “High Genetic Gain” and providing details of their desired breeding objective. A flat fee of $165 (inc GST) applies to access a

MateSel creates additional genetic progress within a breeding

MateSel analysis, and results are returned promptly, usually

program by generating a suggested mating list from a list of

within one working day.

sires and dams that a seedstock producer nominates as being

MateSel is a valuable addition to the BREEDPLAN suite of

available for use within their upcoming joining program.

tools that are that are offered by the Agricultural Business

MateSel not only allows seedstock members to maximise

Research Institute (ABRI) in Armidale, NSW. Seedstock

genetic progress whilst managing inbreeding, but will also save

members interested in learning more about MateSel should

significant time previously spent compiling mating lists.

visit the BREEDPLAN website (

MateSel is fully customised to the breeding program of each

and click on the MateSel icon on the right hand side, or contact

individual seedstock operation with the seedstock producer

staff at SBTS or TBTS.


Enhancements Made to GROUP BREEDPLAN Analyses for Santa Gertrudis and Charolais


number of significant enhancements have been applied recently to the BREEDPLAN software that is used to calculate EBVs within both the Santa Gertrudis GROUP BREEDPLAN and Charolais GROUP BREEDPLAN analyses. The enhancements were implemented in the July 2013 and September 2013 analyses respectively and form part of the ongoing development of the BREEDPLAN software.

of EBVs, and in the case of the Santa Getrudis analysis, improvements in the calculation of EBVs for Days to Calving and the routine calculation of Flight Time EBVs. Note that while the facility now exists, genomic prediction information is not currently being included in either the Santa Gertrudis or Charolais analyses. Version 6.2 software will cater for this when genomic predictions relevant to Santa Gertrudis and Charolais animals become available.

The enhancements include:


n New

Genetic Parameters - The genetic parameters and adjustment factors utilised within both the Santa Gertrudis and Charolais BREEDPLAN analyses have been re-estimated by the Animal Genetics & Breeding Unit (AGBU). The genetic parameters include the heritability of each trait and the correlations between the different traits, while the adjustment factors are those required for the performance records to remove non-genetic effects such as the adjustments made for age and age of dam.


Upgrade to BREEDPLAN Version 6.2 – This latest version of the BREEDPLAN software has several enhancements including a revised method for handling different groups of “base” animals (ie. animals with incomplete pedigree), the ability to “blend” genomic prediction information as a source of additional information in the calculation

Transition to a Full Crossbred Analysis Model - With the growing frequency of crossbred animals being performance recorded and available to both the Santa Gertrudis and Charolais analyses, the model used within the respective BREEDPLAN analyses has been changed to better cater for the performance records available on such crossbred animals. Performance records are now pre-adjusted for both direct and maternal heterosis based on the breed content of the calf and cow. Contemporary groups may now comprise both purebred and crossbred animals, allowing head-to-head comparisons where such breed types are being run together.

Further information regarding the changes that have been implemented to the Santa Gertrudis and Charolais GROUP BREEDPLAN analysis is available from the “Latest News” section of the BREEDPLAN website, or by contacting SBTS or TBTS staff.

New Selection Indexes for Murray Grey


he Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society Technical Committee, with the assistance of SBTS, recently conducted a comprehensive review of the Selection Indexes that are calculated for Australian Murray Grey animals.

animals. These are the Vealer Terminal, Supermarket and EU Heavy Steer Indexes. Further information on the new Murray Grey Selection Indexes can be found on the “Interpreting Australian Murray Grey Selection Indexes” tip sheet on the BREEDPLAN website (

Resulting from the review of the Murray Grey Selection Indexes, three indexes will now be calculated for Murray Grey


Accessing Support in Application of Genetic Technologies

For support and assistance in the use and understanding of the different genetic technologies that are available, such as BREEDPLAN, BreedObject Selection Indexes, Internet Solutions, TakeStock, GeneProb, Mate Selection Software & DNA based tools or to discuss any of the information included in this edition of the SBTS & TBTS Update, please contact:

Technical Consultant


Contact Details

Christian Duff

Charolais Red Angus Shorthorn (02) 6773 2472 Simmental Wagyu

Andrew Byrne

Hereford (02) 6773 3357

Paul Williams

Belmont Red Brahman Brangus Charbray

Droughtmaster Santa Gertrudis Senepol Simbrah

Gemma Wilkinson

Blonde d’Aquitaine Red Poll Devon Salers Gelbvieh South Devon Murray Grey (07) 4927 6066 (02) 6773 3265

Alex Limousin McDonald (02) 6771 1648 Peter Angus Parnell (02) 6772 3011

If you would like any further information on SBTS and TBTS please contact:

Southern Beef Technology Services Telephone: (02) 6773 3555 Email: Web:


Tropical Beef Technology Services Telephone: (07) 4927 6066 Email: Web:

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