Winter 2016 SBTS & TBTS Update

Page 1




Collecting Abattoir Carcase Information


battoir carcase information, along with live animal ultrasound scanning measurements and genomic information, is used to calculate Carcase EBVs

within BREEDPLAN. This article outlines the requirements for the collection and submission of abattoir carcase information for BREEDPLAN.

Why Collect Abattoir Carcase Information? Traits such as carcase yield and meat quality are some of the most economically important traits in the beef supply chain. While the collection of carcase information from ultrasound scanning and genomic tests provides useful information on live animals, abattoir carcase information is of particular value for genetic evaluation as it represents a direct measure of the attributes of a beef carcase. Obtaining direct abattoir carcase measurements can add considerable accuracy to the Carcase EBVs calculated within


followed to ensure the carcase measurements that are

BREEDPLAN, and consequently provides a valuable source of information when attempting to identify animals with superior

Appropriate measurement collection protocols have been collected are of suitable quality for genetic evaluation.

carcase genetics for use in a beef breeding program.


What Abattoir Carcase Information will be Accepted?

Where carcase data is collected from a commercial slaughter it

Abattoir carcase information must meet certain requirements

means that they must have been reared together and have been

in order to be accepted for inclusion in BREEDPLAN. These requirements have been put in place to ensure any abattoir carcase information that is analysed within BREEDPLAN meets appropriate data integrity standards. The most valuable carcase data for inclusion in a BREEDPLAN analysis meets the following requirements: n

Animals are between 300 and 1000 days of age at slaughter (i.e. 10 – 33 months).

is important that they are in a valid contemporary group. This treated the same way during backgrounding and finishing and slaughtered on the same day. It is important that animals have not been harvested from a larger group based on their weight and fatness. Abattoir carcase information that does not meet the above criteria, such as kill sheets for small groups of steers or

It has been collected as part of a structured progeny test

cull heifers, or information collected as part of a carcase


competition, is not suitable for analysis in BREEDPLAN.

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

Establishing a Progeny Test for the Collection of Abattoir Carcase Information


The most valuable abattoir carcase information for inclusion in BREEDPLAN is


from structured progeny test programs in order to ensure that the amount of useful information generated is maximised. The new BREEDPLAN Tipsheet “Collecting Abattoir Carcase Information� provides a detailed explanation of how to establish and


manage a progeny test.

Abattoir Measurement Collection Protocols to Ensure Data Integrity

in this issue

When obtaining abattoir carcase information for inclusion in BREEDPLAN, it is important to investigate how the carcases will be processed at the abattoir and how

Collecting Abattoir

Carcase Information

the carcase measurements will be collected to ensure that any information collected is 1

Northern BIN Steer Project Update 4 Key Achievement of the Previous Phase of the SBTS and TBTS Projects 6 SBTS & TBTS Projects Renewed


Namibian Herefords Join TransTasman Hereford BREEDPLAN Analysis 10 Collecting Abattoir Carcase Information Tip Sheet Now Available 10 BullSELECT Workshops


2016 SBTS & TBTS Webinar Program


useful for genetic evaluation. In reality this can be difficult when carcases are being processed through commercially operated abattoirs, however abattoir measurements that have not been collected in accordance with appropriate measurement collection protocols can lead to considerable bias in the Carcase EBVs that are calculated for animals within BREEDPLAN.

Use of MSA Accredited Graders Where possible, animals should be processed at a Meat Standards Australia (MSA) licensed abattoir and have measurements collected by an MSA accredited grader. A list of MSA licensed abattoirs is available from the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) website. It is important that the same MSA accredited grader collects carcase measurements on all animals within a contemporary group. Where carcase measurements are collected by different graders, a different management group (or kill group) should be specified for the carcases assessed by each grader.

Animal Identification in the Abattoir Loss of individual animal and carcase identification is a common problem when

Net Feed Intake (NFI) Testing To Improve Feed Efficiency


collecting abattoir information for genetic evaluation.

SBTS Staff Present At Field Days


All animals will have a management tag and NLIS tag at slaughter, with abattoirs

Making Bull Selection Decisions For Heifer Matings


Brahmans Fit To Meet Global Market Opportunities


Optimise Joining


Get Social with SBTS & TBTS


Monthly Group BREEDPLAN Analyses for Red Poll & Braford 23 2016 Breeding Focus - Improving Welfare 23 of Genetic Technologies

information is carefully cross referenced to ensure that the abattoir measurements collected are appropriately assigned to the correct animals.

Processing of Carcases Several carcase processing procedures routinely practiced in commercial abattoirs can

Using MateSel

Accessing Support in Application

routinely recording NLIS tag and body number. It is important that all identification


lead to a reduction in the usefulness of any abattoir carcase measurements for genetic evaluation. 1. Hide puller damage - Fat can inadvertently be stripped from the carcase when the hide is being removed and can considerably bias the rump and rib fat measurements subsequently collected on the carcase. Fat measurements should not be submitted to BREEDPLAN from carcases where considerable hide puller damage has occurred. 2. Trimming - Fat will routinely be trimmed from carcases using a whizzer knife prior to carcase measurements being collected, especially from the rib fat measurement


site. Rib fat measurements should not be submitted to BREEDPLAN from carcases that have been trimmed. 3. Carcase damage/Bruising - Carcases that may have considerable damage, bruising or abscesses can have portions removed during processing. Any measurements from these carcases should be carefully scrutinised and only submitted to BREEDPLAN if the processing of the carcase has not biased the measurements collected. 4. Quarter site - Carcases may be quartered at different sites. It is important that all carcases from animals in a contemporary group are quartered at the same site, and ideally at the 12/13th rib site. Where carcases have been quartered at a different site, a different management group (or kill group) should be specified. 5. Spencer rolling - Some abattoirs undertake a practice known as “spencer rolling� to make the carcase easier to bone out. By design, spencer rolling changes the shape of the eye muscle and makes it difficult to accurately measure eye muscle area (EMA). EMA measurements should not be submitted to BREEDPLAN from carcases that have been subject to spencer rolling.

Submitting Abattoir Carcase Information to BREEDPLAN Abattoir carcase measurements should be submitted directly to BREEDPLAN using a specific Microsoft Excel template. A copy of the template that needs to be used can be obtained from staff at BREEDPLAN. BREEDPLAN currently includes carcase weight, rump fat, eye muscle area, MSA marble score and intramuscular fat measurements in the calculation of Carcase EBVs; however other measurements that have been collected can be submitted for storage and possible future analysis. Prior to submission to BREEDPLAN, it is important that any abattoir carcase measurements are carefully scrutinised. Specifically, the measurements should be reviewed to ensure they fit within normal expected ranges, and that the variation between measurements reviewed to ensure that measurements follow a normal expected distribution. For more information regarding the collection of abattoir carcase data, please contact staff at Southern Beef Technology Services (SBTS) or Tropical Beef Technology Services (TBTS) to discuss your options.



Northern BIN Steer Project Update he Australian Brahman Breeders’ Association (ABBA) and Droughtmasters Stud Breeders society (DSBS) are currently conducting a joint progeny test project

with funding assistance from the Meat & Livestock Australia Donor Company under the Beef Information Nucleus (BIN) program. This joint Northern BIN Steer Project has utilised the steer progeny from a second MLA funded project ‘Enabling genetic improvement of reproduction in tropical beef breeds (Repronomics)’. The Northern BIN Steer Project will provide data which will assist in the future implementation of a MultiBreed database and a future Tropical crossbred analysis. This is possible as the Brahman and Droughtmaster steers in the

2015 born Spyglass steers at Tawarri in February 2016.

Northern BIN Steer Project have been run together since birth,

be backgrounded until they reached feedlot entry weight. In

having only been split during the joining period of their dams.

February 2016, these 2014 born steers were sent to Smithfield

To date 388 Brahman steers by 47 Brahman sires, including

Feedlot. Here they will be fed on grain for 110 days before

10 Link Sires (BEEF CRC and Brahman BIN), and 347

being slaughtered at John Dee Abattoir in Warwick. Both the

Droughtmaster steers by 44 Droughtmaster sires have been

2015 and 2016 born steers have been transferred to Tawarri

purchased by the Northern BIN Steer Project. The sires of these

near Middlemount. They are currently being backgrounded at

steers are either proven sires with a large number of registered

Tawarri and will be sent to Smithfield Feedlot for finishing.

progeny (few of which have been performance recorded with

Both 400 and 600 day weights have been or will be collected

BREEDPLAN) or young up and coming bulls. The steers are

for all steers. Structural soundness assessments were also

either by AI or natural matings out of highly recorded Brahman

conducted on these animals. Steers were scanned for rib

and Droughtmaster cows from Spyglass Research Station. The

fat, rump fat and eye muscle area (EMA). Full MSA chiller

first steers to be purchased by the Northern BIN Steer Project

assessments will be conducted on the steer carcases, and meat

were from the 2013 drop, with steers from the 2014, 2015 and

samples from all steer carcases will be analysed by the UNE

2016 drops subsequently purchased.

Meat Science Lab for tenderness, cooking loss, meat colour

The 2013 steer progeny were purchased in February 2015 and

and intramuscular fat (IMF). All data collected as part of the

transferred to Smithfield Feedlot (Proston). Here they were

Northern BIN Steer Project will be submitted to BREEDPLAN.

finished on a grain ration for 110 days before being slaughtered

Tail hairs and blood samples were collected from all steers as

at John Dee Abattoir in Warwick. The 2014 steers, also

a source of DNA information for future development and

purchased in February 2015, were sent to Banana Station to

validation of genomic based technologies. At the time of writing slaughter data was only available for the 2013 calving drop. The slaughter data results are presented in Table 1 and summarise the minimum, maximum and average for the combined 2013 born Brahman and Droughtmaster steer dataset for a number of traits. There is large variation in all of the carcase traits, with carcase weight at slaughter varying by 128 kg, P8 fat varying by 23 mm and Eye Muscle Area varying by 47 cm2. Analysis of the average progeny carcase weight for the seven sires of the 2013 Droughtmaster steers shows considerable variation, as seen in Figure 2. The sire with the heaviest average

Figure 1. Locations of the properties of interest in the Northern BIN Steer Project.

progeny carcase weights produced steers that averaged 331 kg, 4

Table 1 - Summary of the slaughter data for the Spyglass 2013 steers.

Carcase Weight (kg)

P8 (mm)

Rib (mm)

EMA (cm2)

IMF (%)

Shear Force (kg)






















while the sire with the lowest average progeny carcase weights

one kilogram difference in shear force between the progeny of

produced steers that average 296 kg. The difference in average

the sire with the highest average progeny Shear Force and the

progeny carcase weight between these two sires is 35 kg, which

sire with the lowest average progeny Shear Force. Importantly,

results in an average difference of approximately $200 in the

this is the first carcase data to be collected in the Droughtmaster

sale price between the progeny of the two sires.

breed that will go onto the BREEDPLAN analysis.

Shear Force, a measure of tenderness, is measured using the

The Northern BIN Steer Project will provide vital carcase

Warner-Bratzler shear force test. The unit of measurement

data information that will assist in the future incorporation of

is kilograms of force needed to shear a 1 cubic centimetre

validating genomics for these traits. For more information on

muscle sample. Analysis of the average progeny Shear Force

the Northern BIN Steer Project please contact Paul Williams

for the seven sires of the 2013 Droughtmaster steers shows

from Tropical Beef Technology Services on 0427 018 982 or via

considerable variation, as seen in Figure 3. There is an average



Average Progeny Carcase Weight (kg)
















Figure 2 - Average Progeny Carcase Weight (kg) for the sires of the 2013 Droughtmaster steers in the Northern BIN Steer Project.


Average Progeny Shear Force (kgs)

4.50 4.00 3.50

3.00 2.50 2.00 1.50 1.00 0.50 0.00








Figure 3 - Average Progeny Shear Force (kg) for the sires of the 2013 Droughtmaster steers in the Northern BIN Steer Project. 5



Key Achievement of the Previous Phase of the SBTS & TBTS Projects drop calves. The weighted average selection index ($) for the 2008 calving year was $58.02, and this increased to $83.27 for the 2015 calving year. This change represents an increase of $25.25 between the 2008 and 2015 calving years, equating to an average increase of $3.61 per year. The key objective to increase the weighted average selection index by $21.00 per cow mated from the base year of 2008 to 2015 was exceeded by a total of $4.25.

he Southern Beef Technology Services (SBTS) and Tropical Beef Technology Services (TBTS) projects provide the southern and northern Australia beef industries with hands-on technical support to improve the understanding and adoption of BREEDPLAN and related genetic improvement technologies. The SBTS project is a joint initiative between breed associations that run the majority of their cattle in southern Australia, the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), while the TBTS project is a joint initiative between breed associations that run the majority of their cattle in northern Australia, ABRI and MLA.

Importantly, the weighted average selection index trends show an increasing rate of genetic progress being achieved. For the five year period to 2010 the average increase in the weighted average index was $1.80 per year and in the five years to 2015 the average increase in the weighted average index was $4.20 per year (Figure 1).

Phase Two of the SBTS project was initially funded from 1st September 2010 until 31st August 2014, but was subsequently extended to 30th June 2016. Phase Three of the TBTS project was initially funded from 1st September 2011 to 31st August 2015 with funding also subsequently extended to 30th June 2016. With the completion of the previous phases of the SBTS and TBTS projects on 30th June 2016 (and the re-funding of the next stage of these two projects), it is timely to examine the key achievements of the previous phase of both projects.

2. Increase the rate of genetic gain in northern seedstock herds

1. Increase in the rate of genetic gain in southern seedstock herds 4.5





Av. Rate of Change ( 5 yr rolling)


Figure 2 Average Weighted Selection Index ($) for TBTS Stakeholder breeds with Selection Indexes published.









Similar to the SBTS project, a key goal of the TBTS project was





to achieve an increase in the average BreedObject selection index value of the Stakeholder Breed Associations of $10 per

1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Index ($)


Av. Weighted Index

Av. 5 year change ($/yr)


Calving Year

cow mated between the 2009 drop (base year) and 2014 drop calves. The weighted average Selection Index ($) for the 2014

Figure 1 - Weighted Average selection index ($) and Average Rate of Change (5 year rolling) for SBTS stakeholder breeds.

calving year was $21.18 compared to the 2009 calving year (base year) of $16.55. This represents an increase of $4.63

A key objective of phase two of the SBTS project was to

between the 2009 and 2014 calving years or an average increase

facilitate an increase in the rate of genetic progress of the

of $0.93 per year.

stakeholder Breed Associations by increasing the weighted average BreedObject selection index value of animals by $21.00

Figure 2 shows the weighted average Selection Index from

per cow mated between the 2008 drop (base year) and 2015

the 1990 to 2015 calving year and also the five year rolling


weighted average Selection Index. The 5 year rolling weighted

Update was an effective extension avenue for keeping

average Selection Index trend shows an increase in the rate of

seedstock producers informed on current developments in

genetic progress being achieved. The weighted average change

the genetic progress technology area and upcoming related

for the five years to 2015 was $1.13 compared to the weighted

extension initiatives.

average change for the five years to 2009 of $0.70 representing

With regard to distribution, the SBTS and TBTS Update was:

a significant increase in the rate of genetic progress.


3. Other Achievements of the SBTS and TBTS projects

TBTS stakeholder Breed Societies (approximately 2,100 businesses). >

General Activity: A range of extension activities and technical

SBTS & TBTS stakeholder Breed Societies (approximately

BREEDPLAN related technologies in southern and northern

5,500 businesses).

Australian seedstock herds were undertaken in the previous phase of the SBTS and TBTS projects.


Ultrasound scanners, staff from AGBU, MLA, SGA, DPI, Pfizer, UQ and private consultants).

These workshops were run on seedstock properties but specifically targeted commercial bull buyers.


conducted, each consisting of five or six one hour webinars


with a general theme. A number of stand-alone webinars

utilisation within a breeding program were commenced in

and can be viewed on the SBTS & TBTS YouTube channel:

May 2013, and were distributed monthly. In the previous


phase of the SBTS and TBTS Projects, a total of 29 TechTalk

attendance and total views on YouTube for each of the four

articles were produced. These were circulated via the SBTS

webinar series are shown in Table 1. n

and TBTS websites and social media network, and also

General Workshop Delivery: In addition to the workshops

provided to participating Breed Societies for distribution

and webinars facilitated by SBTS and TBTS, extension

throughout their networks. TechTalk articles can be viewed

staff were also involved in presenting sessions at 196 beef

in Technical Documents on the SBTS and TBTS websites.

industry field days and seminars. n

TechTalk: TechTalk articles which discuss a topic of interest regarding the application of genetic technologies and their

were also presented. All webinars were posted on YouTube The

In addition, a copy is provided in electronic form to each Breed Society stakeholder for wider distribution.

Webinars: During the project four webinar series were

Electronically distributed via email or e-news mail list to a list of personnel working in the beef industry (e.g.

Workshops: A total of 44 “BullSELECT�

workshops were conducted during these projects.


Electronically distributed via email or e-news mail list to BREEDPLAN and non-BREEDPLAN members of the

support initiatives to implement both new and existing


Mailed to all BREEDPLAN members of the SBTS and

n Social Media: In May 2013, SBTS and TBTS implemented

SBTS & TBTS Updates: Summer and Winter SBTS & TBTS

a strategy to utilise social media as an additional

Update publications were produced bi-annually each year.

communication stream for genetic technology updates.

Past additions can be viewed under Technical Documents

This involves two social media platforms being Twitter

on the SBTS and TBTS Websites. The SBTS & TBTS

and Facebook. This is additional to the SBTS and TBTS

Table 1 Attendance and YouTube views of the four Webinar Series held in the previous phase of the SBTS and TBTS Projects.

Webinar Series


Number of Webinars

Average Attendance

Total YouTube Views as of 30th June 2016

Know Your Genes





The Cutting Edge





Staying Ahead of the Curve











Technical Support to Breed Society Members

YouTube channel which has been utilised to upload recorded webinars and other related videos.

Technical support to breed societies

Members of all participating Breed Societies had access to ongoing assistance in the use and understanding of the different

Technical support to breed societies was provided on a

genetic tools that are available. Technical support provided to

day to day basis to staff, boards and technical committees/

Breed Society members included:

representatives from participating Breed Societies. Examples


of technical support provided to Breed Societies include: n Representation

ranged from general provision of advice regarding the use

of participating Breed Societies at

and application of genetic technologies, to more complex

BREEDPLAN Technical Liaison Group (BTLG) meetings

EBV diagnostics. This activity took up a significant amount

(four per year). n

of time in each SBTS Technical Officer’s profile.

Review of preliminary results from GROUP BREEDPLAN


analyses for participating breed societies and provision of

herds. In the first three years Phase 1 visits to 261 herds in

breed society.

southern and northern Australia and were completed. A

General liaison and advice with members from participating

more advanced Phase 2 package was developed and, the

breed societies’ staff, technical committees and boards. n Compilation

target list was reviewed and revised accordingly to ensure the list contains the relevant “influential” breeders. In the

of technical articles for Breed Society

final three years 73 on-property Phase 2 consultations were



More specific technical support provided during the project

4. Fertility in the North

included: n Support

in the transition to ABRI’s new generation of

The previous phase of the TBTS project undertook extension

breed registry software known as ILR2. The new software

initiatives to extend relevant messages to the Northern Australia

includes several new features such as the running of

seedstock sector based on Beef CRC research outcomes with

monthly GROUP BREEDPLAN analyses, production of

particular emphasis on R&D outcomes relevant to the genetic

enhanced BREEDPLAN reports and access to the mating

improvement of fertility traits in tropical breed cattle.

optimisation tool MateSel. n Implementation

TBTS extended key messages to the seedstock sector based on

of new EBVs and Indexes analysis and

Beef CRC research outcomes (and associated outcomes from

publication for a number of breeds. n Assistance

other research bodies e.g. Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit

with the Beef Information Nucleus (BIN)

- AGBU) with an emphasis on genetic improvement of fertility

programs for Brahman, Hereford and Charolais, including

traits in tropical breeds through a mix of targeted and broad

data collection. n In

and TBTS services included a structured on-

property consultation program with influential seedstock

associated permission to release the results on behalf of the n

Provision of day to day phone and email consultation. This

extension initiatives.

conjunction with AGBU, the development of the


Genomic Policy Roadmaps for several breeds.

On-property consultations with influential seedstock herds: Discussion on this topic were undertaken during

Table 2 Days to Calving records submitted since 1st January 2014.

Mating Type



Belmont Red





AI (Fixed Time)




Pregnancy Test









the consultations with the “influential” herds. This has

to Calving EBV analysis.

particularly focused on recording performance data for the


current fertility EBVs being Days to Calving and Scrotal

breeding for fertility was added to the TBTS website. This

Size. As a result of these discussions a large number of Days

web page currently includes a range of tip sheets related

to Calving records have been submitted for the Brahman,

to genetic improvement of fertility and several recorded

Santa Gertrudis and Belmont Red breeds as shown in Table

webinars covering “Genetics for Reproduction – The


Male Influence”, “Genetics for Reproduction – the Female

In addition: >

Influence” and “Understanding and Recording Information for the Fertility Traits”.

An EBV for Days to Calving was implemented for the Belmont Red breed.




Breeding for Fertility Web Page: A web page dedicated to


Incorporation of Direct Genomic Values (DGV) blending

Nearly 50,000 Brahman mating records were submitted to

into BREEDPLAN: The addition of blended female

Brahman BREEDPLAN since 1/1/2014.

reproduction DGVs into the current Days to Calving (DTC)

For the Santa Gertrudis breed, since 1/1/2014 there

EBVs as part of the routine monthly BREEDPLAN analysis.

have been over 13,000 mating records with 7000 records

Overall EBV accuracy for DTC increased by 10% with the

submitted since January 2016 to Santa Gertrudis

range between 0 to 33% with the largest change in accuracy


associated with those animals with the lowest pre blending

Mating Records have also been submitted to BREEDPLAN

accuracy. There is no flow on effect of the DGVs to other

for Brangus and Droughtmaster with over a 1000 records

correlated traits or to close relatives using the blending

submitted for Droughtmasters since January 2015.

method but once a single step analysis is used the effect of

However these breeds do not currently undertake a Days

the DGVs will flow to relatives and other correlated traits.

SBTS & TBTS Projects Renewed


oint funding for the Southern Beef Technology Services (SBTS) project and Tropical Beef Technology Services (TBTS) project for a further five years has been approved by the MLA Donor Company.

Manager of ABRI Extension Services, Alex McDonald, said he was delighted that the achievements of the previous SBTS and TBTS projects had been recognised and funding for new long term projects had been approved.

The two projects are jointly funded by jointly by the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the southern based breed societies for the SBTS project and northern based breed societies for the TBTS project. The staffing of both projects will change from the current projects. Angus Australia will no longer be involved in the SBTS project but the Australian Wagyu Association will have a much greater involvement through the contribution of Carel Teseling formerly from Angus Australia. In total the project will have a contribution of 2.35 FTE which is similar to the previous SBTS project. Staffing resources for the TBTS project will be doubled to 2 FTEs with the addition of a full time person seconded from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.



Namibian Herefords Join TransTasman Hereford BREEDPLAN Analysis he May 2016 Hereford Trans Tasman GROUP BREEDPLAN analysis included for the first time a small number of Hereford herds from Namibia and

South Africa. The four Namibian and South African Hereford herds record performance data with the Hereford Cattle Breeder’s Society of Namibia, and have adequate genetic linkage with Australian and New Zealand herds to allow the joint analysis to be conducted. These four Namibian and South African herds will be included in all future monthly Hereford analyses. The Namibian and South African breeders are very appreciative of being able to have their performance data analysed with the large Australia and New Zealand database and said it would increase the value of their EBVs.


Collecting Abattoir Carcase Information Tip Sheet now Available

he majority of abattoir carcase data being submitted to BREEDPLAN has traditionally been from breed society run progeny test projects. However, there has recently been interest from a number of beef producers in submitting abattoir carcase data from their own herds for use in BREEDPLAN analyses. A new tip sheet has been developed which outlines the requirements for those producers who wish to submit abattoir carcase information to BREEDPLAN. This tip sheet, Collecting Abattoir Carcass Information, is available on the BREEDPLAN website in the Technical section: 10


BullSELECT Workshops BTS has delivered two BullSELECT workshops so far this year. The first workshop was held in conjunction with the South Australian Shorthorn Beef Branch &

More Beef from Pastures (MBfP) at Belmore Shorthorns in Naracoorte, South Australia. The second BullSELECT workshop was held in conjunction with Central West Local Land Services at DSK Angus and Charolais in Coonabarabran, NSW. Thanks to Andy Withers, Sally Withers and Ali Volker from Belmore Shorthorns and Chris Knox and Helen Alexander of DSK Angus and Charolais for all of the hard work you put in to make each BullSELECT

Participants take part in a mock auction exercise as part of the BullSELECT Workshop, held at Belmore Shorthorns in April 2016.

workshop a success. Both workshops were attended by a mix of seedstock beef producers, commercial beef producers, stock agents and other beef industry personnel. Attendees at the BullSELECT workshops learnt about BREEDPLAN EBVs and Selection Indexes through a mix of presentations and interactive discussions at the cattle yards. One highlight of the BullSELECT workshop is the mock Helmsman auction, where participants can put into practice what they had learnt throughout the day to select a bull or team of bulls to suit a particular scenario. Those interested in hosting a BullSELECT workshop should

Discussing EBVs at the BullSELECT Workshop, held at DSK Angus and Charolais in May 2016.

contact staff at SBTS or TBTS to register their interest. Further information, including a BullSELECT program, is available from the SBTS ( or TBTS (http:// websites.



Net Feed Intake (NFI) Testing to Improve Feed Efficiency



urrently it is widely accepted that the cow herd consumes about 60-80% of the energy required for beef production. Feed cost for cattle on pastures

include the cost of land ownership, pasture improvement and supplementary feeding. The cost of feeding cattle in a feedlot includes purchasing the ingredients, processing the feed and feeding it out. Feed cost is a major component of the cost structure of beef production. It is therefore obvious that any improvements in how efficiently feed is utilised will have a direct impact on profitability. Kerwee Feedlot in Queensland.

There are many different ways to define feed efficiency. Usually

Net Feed Intake

in these definitions feed intake is used as the input component and weight gain as the output component.

Net feed intake refers to the variation in feed intake which

Cost-benefit analysis

remains after the requirements for maintenance and growth are accounted for. It is calculated as the actual amount of feed

Figure 1 indicates the results of a cost-benefit analysis of feed

consumed after provision has been made for the feed the

efficiency testing in bull evaluation programs in Ontario

animal was expected to eat based on its size and growth rate.

done by M.T. Lazenby, A.J. Kellock and J.W. Wilton of the

An efficient animal is therefore one which eats less feed than

University of Guelph. This study indicated that the potential

expected for its body size and growth rate and it has a negative

future returns to all sectors of the beef production chain will

NFI while inefficient animals have a positive NFI. An example

outweigh the cost of measuring feed intake. The challenge will

of the calculation of NFI for two animals is given in Table 1.

be to encourage all sectors to share in the investment cost to

From the above example it is obvious that animals differ

test animals for efficiency.

significantly in their ability to utilise feed efficiently. If we assume a difference of 2kg/day between an efficient and inefficient animal, and they are both fed for 450 days, the efficient animal will require 900kg less feed to achieve the same level of production as the inefficient animal.

Limitations to NFI testing There are a number of factors which tend to limit the amount of NFI testing of seedstock bull calves, including: 1. The high cost associated with measuring feed intake of individual animals; Figure 1 - Distribution of benefits to various beef industry sectors resulting from improved feed efficiency in Canada.

2. The “complexity� of obtaining feed intake measurements; 3. The practical limitations, animal health concerns and large overhead costs associated with testing;

It is expected that, in the case of Wagyu where long feedlot

4. The general lack of appreciation of the importance of feed

feeding periods are the norm, feedlots will benefit even more

costs to enterprise profitability

than the 35% indicated by the above study. Where ownership is retained throughout the life of slaughter animals, the benefits

5. Limited appreciation of the potential for genetic

of more efficient animals will flow directly back to the owner.

improvement in feed efficiency; 13

Table 1 Results for two steers measured for feed efficiency during a 120-day test at Trangie Research Station, NSW.

High Efficiency (Efficient)

Low Efficiency (Inefficient)

Start Weight (kg)



Growth rate (kg/day)



Expected Feed Intake (kg)



Actual Feed Intake (kg)



Net Feed Intake (kg)



6. Lack of direct financial benefit. In general, profitability gains in the feedlot sector resulting from investment in NFI genetic improvement programs by the seedstock and cow/ calf sectors are currently not passed back to these sectors.

Currently Tullimba feedlot, located 40 km south west of

7. Relatively limited use of artificial breeding technologies in the beef industry results in the lack of opportunity to recoup costs through high volume dissemination of

2016. This is a very exciting development as it will be the first

Armidale, is the only facility that provides NFI data for analysis in BREEDPLAN. However; Kerwee Feedlot recently installed GrowSafe feed bins and their first intake of steers was in August instance where a commercial feedlot in Australia has installed GrowSafe feeding bins to measure feed intake and where the data will be used for BREEDPLAN genetic analysis.

superior genetics.

Testing for NFI







Feed efficiency can be measured either on young bulls or steer progeny of sires. Either way, the principles of measurement are similar:

Program that will define protocols to ensure feed efficiency

Improvement Committee is developing a Sire Progeny Testing test results will be suitable for genetic analysis. The AWA Competitions Committee is also developing rules for a Sire

1. Animals are put in pens which are fitted with specialised GrowSafe feed bins which allow animals unrestricted access to feed, and the actual feed intake of the animal is recorded every time the animal visits the bin.

Competition that will utilise the results from Kerwee Feedlot to award high genetic merit sires for a range of traits with the aim to encourage NFI testing and improve the quality of Australian Wagyu sires.

2. The animals are allowed at least 28 days to adjust to the ration and feeding system prior to the commencement of the test period, followed by a test duration of 70 days.

The installation of GrowSafe feeding bins at Kerwee feedlot will

3. During the test the animals should be weighed at least every fortnight to accurately record its growth during the test.

feedlot to complete their feeding period.

help to reduce the direct cost of NFI testing as well as the cost of animals being transported from Tullimba to a commercial

Genetic improvement of efficiency through NFI EBVs

4. The data collected can then be processed to calculate NFI of the animal.

BREEDPLAN can calculate NFI EBVs for breeds where enough animals have been tested for NFI at approved centres. Advances in genomic technologies will significantly improve the ability to accurately identify more efficient animals. The above is only possible where a large number of animals have NFI records available for analysis by the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU). It is expected that about 3000 NFI records will be needed to develop NFI EBVs for the Wagyu breed.

Conclusions Feed efficiency is a very important trait for all livestock species, and even more-so for Wagyu where animals are being feedlot fed for between 330 and 650 days before slaughter.

Installation of the GrowSafe feed bins at Kerwee Feedlot. 14

Genetic improvement in feed efficiency will have a significant impact on reducing costs across all sectors of the production chain. With the high level of retained ownership, Wagyu breeders are in a very good position to capitalise on the financial benefits that will result from genetic improvements made in feed efficiency.

NFI EBVs will make it possible for commercial breeders to select for more efficient breeding animals in their herds while also improving feed efficiency of steers going through the feedlots. When NFI EBVs are estimated, AWA will be in a position to also include this very important cost component in the calculation of $Index values.

The establishment of NFI EBVs for the Wagyu population will require significant financial investment from Wagyu breeders.

SBTS Staff Present at Field Days


heifer bulls and bulls for producers chasing MSA markets.

hile SBTS and TBTS offer a full day BullSELECT Workshop which has been designed for those seedstock producers wishing to further educate

The second presentation was at the Franco and Parson Hill Hereford Studs Open Day, in June 2016. At this open day SBTS

their commercial clients about how to best utilise BREEDPLAN

staff gave those in attendance an overview of BREEDPLAN

information when selecting animals, we often give shorter

EBVs and Selection Indexes.

presentations at a range of field days and other events.

The third presentation was at a Bull Health and Selection field

For example, a seedstock producer may wish to tie in a

day, organised by Central West Local Land Services and held

shorter presentation on BREEDPLAN, EBVs and Selection

in Coonamble, NSW in June 2016. At this field day the SBTS

Indexes with a presentation from their vet on bull health, or

presentation was titled ‘Using BREEDPLAN Information for

a presentation from the local feedlot on market specifications.

Bull Selection Decisions’ with a focus on selecting heifer bulls.

In April and June 2016, SBTS staff presented at three such field

This topic tied in nicely with the presentations over the rest of


the day, which included talks by local vets on bull structure and

The first field day was organised by Truro Herefords, and

health and a practical demonstration on how a Bull Breeding

was held in April 2016. At this field day SBTS staff spoke

and Soundness Evaluation (BBSE) was conducted.

on ‘Choosing Bulls to Fit Your Program’, giving a general introduction to EBVs and Selection Indexes and finishing

Please contact SBTS or TBTS should you wish to discuss the

with examples of how to use BREEDPLAN information in

possibility of having SBTS or TBTS staff present on a specific

conjunction with structure and fertility information to select

topic at your next field day.


Making Bull Selection Decisions for Heifer Matings


here are numerous factors which need to be considered when selecting a bull to mate over heifers. In many cases, the primary aim of the beef producer is to produce a live calf which is born unassisted, with other economic traits (e.g. growth) of secondary importance. Traditionally this has been done by selecting a ‘heifer bull’ to mate over the heifers; that is, a bull with a low birth weight EBV which will produce small calves which are easily calved down by the heifer. However, as birth weight is highly correlated with the other growth traits (e.g. 200, 400 and 600 Day Weight), this has traditionally been done at the expense of later growth. For those that are breeding replacement females, this has longer term implications for the genetic progress of the herd as a whole. The need for heifer bulls is of more importance for herds which are calving in spring compared to autumn, and for herds which are grazing improved pastures compared to native pastures. This is because calves born from dams which have been on good nutrition during pregnancy are heavier at birth than calves born from dams on poorer nutrition.

While selecting an animal with a low to average Birth Weight EBV to use over heifers should help to reduce calving difficulties, correlations between birth weight and other traits need to be considered. Specifically, lower birth weight sires may cause fewer calving difficulties, but they also tend to produce calves with poorer growth to target market endpoints.

Birth Weight Birth Weight EBVs are estimates of the genetic difference between animals for birth weight, expressed in kilograms. Small or moderate Birth Weight EBVs are more favourable, and indicate lighter birth weights. For example, a bull with a Birth Weight EBV of +1 kg would be expected to produce lighter calves at birth than a bull with a Birth Weight EBV of +7 kg, with a lower risk of a difficult birth.

The sire below is a good example of this. This sire has a Birth Weight EBV which is below breed average, being in the 10th percentile of the breed for birth weight. However his EBVs for 200, 400 and 600 Day Growth are all well below breed average.

The importance of considering Birth Weight EBVs when selecting bulls to mate to heifers was highlighted at a recent herd visit. At this particular stud, the producer had used a team of bulls which had Birth Weight EBVs which were approximately double the breed average. These bulls had some of the heaviest Birth Weight EBVs in the entire breed. This bull team had been mated to the heifers; not surprisingly approximately 50% of these heifers needed assistance at calving. This had a number of flow on effects for the business. In particular, this led to: n

Many sleepless nights checking heifers and pulling calves during the calving period.


A greater number of vet visits and associated costs during the calving period.


Some mortalities - both heifers and calves.

50th Percentile is the Breed Avg. EBVs for 2014 Born Claves


Fortunately, there are bulls out there that are “curvebenders”; that is, those bulls that have below average Birth Weight EBVs but above average Growth EBVs. A good example of this is the bull below. Like the first bull, this bull is also in the 10th percentile of the breed for birth weight. However, unlike the first bull, this bull has good growth EBVs, being above breed average for 200 Day Weight (10th percentile), 400 Day Weight (10th percentile) and 600 Day Weight (25th percentile).


As gestation length decreases, calving difficulties decrease. The converse is also true; as gestation length increases, calving difficulties also increase.

Calves which have had a shorter gestation length are generally smaller, and thus the dam is able to deliver her calf with less difficulty. Therefore, when selecting heifer bulls, consideration should be given to the Gestation Length EBVS of the candidates.

Calving Ease Whilst many large studies have consistently shown birth weight to be the most important genetic factor influencing calving difficulty, there are also other aspects that need to be considered. For example, calf shape, pelvic area and calving “will” all influence calving ease. BREEDPLAN Calving Ease EBVs attempt to take all the factors affecting calving difficulty into consideration and allow the best possible genetic improvement to be made for ease of calving. Two Calving Ease EBVs are produced by BREEDPLAN; these are Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Daughters. 1. Calving Ease DIRECT Calving Ease Direct EBVs are estimates of genetic differences in the ability of a sires’ calves to be born unassisted from 2 year old heifers. Calving Ease Direct EBVs are reported as differences in the percentage of unassisted calvings.

50th Percentile is the Breed Avg. EBVs for 2014 Born Claves

Higher, more positive, Calving Ease Direct EBVs are more favourable. For example, a bull with an EBV of +5.0% would be expected, on average, to produce 3% fewer difficult calvings from 2 year old heifers than a bull with an EBV of –1.0% (6% difference between the sires, then halved as they only contribute half the genetics).

All other factors being equal (e.g. structure), the second bull would be a better choice to mate over heifers. Both bulls would be expected to produce calves which are lighter than the breed average for birth weight, thus reducing the chance of calving difficulties, which is an important trait for a heifer bull. However, the second bull has better growth EBVs, and thus his calves would be expected to have better growth to target market endpoint than the calves of the first bull.

Gestation Length Another trait to consider when selecting a heifer bull is gestation length. Gestation Length EBVs provide an estimate of genetic differences between animals in gestation length, and are expressed in days. Lower or more negative Gestation Length EBVs are considered to be more favourable. For example, a bull with a Gestation Length EBV of -2 days would be expected to produce calves that are born earlier than a bull with a Gestation Length EBV of +2 days. Gestation length is favourably correlated with birth weight and calving ease. In general: n

As gestation length decreases, birth weight also decreases. Similarly, as gestation length increases, birth weights also increase. 17

2. Calving Ease Daughters Calving Ease Daughters EBVs are estimates of genetic differences in the ability of a sire’s 2 year old daughters to calve without assistance. Calving Ease Daughters EBVs are also reported as differences in the percentage of unassisted calvings. Higher, more positive, Calving Ease Daughters EBVs are more favourable. For example, a bull with an EBV of +4.0% would be expected to on average produce 2 year old daughters that have 3% less calving problems than the daughters of a bull with an EBV of –2.0%. When selecting heifer bulls, more positive Calving Ease Direct EBVs are more favourable. However, Calving Ease Daughters EBVs should also be considered, with more positive Calving Ease Daughters EBVs also desirable for heifer bulls.

50th Percentile is the Breed Avg. EBVs for 2014 Born Claves

One challenge is to identify those bulls which are above breed average for both Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Daughters. The bull below has a Calving Ease Direct EBV well above the breed average, but a Calving Ease Daughters EBV well below breed average. This bull may help to reduce calving difficulties in the current heifers, but his daughters may experience calving difficulties when they themselves are heifers. For those in a self-replacing herd situation, this is not desirable, as this can have a negative impact on the calving ease of the herd into the future.

For those with self-replacing herds, selecting heifer bulls with above average Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Daughters EBVs is especially important, both for reducing calving problems in the current heifers and those in the future. For those beef producers who are producing male and female calves for a terminal market, Calving Ease Direct will be of importance while Calving Ease Daughters may not be.

Best Practice Guide to Selecting Heifer Bulls The traits discussed so far in this article are not inherited indvidually; they are correlated with each other. Relationships also exist with other traits of economic importance. Therefore, placing selection pressure on one trait could push other traits in an unfavourable direction. To avoid this, it is recommended that heifer bulls are selected using selection indexes. Selection indexes rank animal on profit (dollars per cow mated), within a specific production to market scenario. They have been designed to balance genetic improvement across traits, thus taking the hard work out of deciding how much emphasis to place on each individual trait. To use selection indexes to select heifer bulls: 1. Identify the selection index of most relevance Identify which selection index available for your breed best

50th Percentile is the Breed Avg. EBVs for 2014 Born Claves

fits your breeding objectives. 2. Rank animals on selection index

Luckily, as is the case with birth weight and growth, curvebender bulls also exist for calving ease traits. Curve-benders in this situation are those bulls who have above average EBVs for both Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Daughters. The bull below is a good example, having some of the top Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Daughters EBVs within this particular breed.

Rank bulls available for selection on the selection index of most relevance. 3. Consider fertility and birth traits Animals with the same selection index value can have very different individual EBVs. Consider the Calving Ease 18

Direct, Calving Ease Daughters, Birth Weight and Gestation Length EBVs and exclude any bulls which don’t have EBVs in acceptable ranges. 4. Consider other traits Consider EBVs for all other traits of economic importance, as per your breeding objective. Exclude any bulls which don’t have EBVs in acceptable ranges. 5. Consider other information Consider other selection critieria of importance (e.g. horn status, structural and functional soundness and genetic condition status). Exclude any bulls that do not meet requirements. This approach should allow beef producers to select heifer bulls which, in addition to reducing the risk of calving problems in their heifers, should also improve other economically important traits within the herd.

Take Home Message

breeding objectives for the herd, and other information should

When selecting heifer bulls, selection indexes should be used to

also be considered before finalising selection decisions.

rank bulls on economic merit. Particular consideration should

When selecting heifer bulls, remember:

then be given to Birth Weight, Gestation Length, Calving Ease


and Growth EBVs. Other traits which are of importance to the

While lower birth weight is generally associated with lower growth, curve-bender bulls do exist. Where possible, try to select bulls with low to average Birth Weight EBVs and above average Growth EBVs. This should equate to smaller calves at birth, thus reducing the likelyhood of calving difficulties, without compromising on growth as the calf gets older.


Shorter gestation lengths are more favourable. Bulls who have shorter Gestation Length EBVs should sire calves who are born earlier than those sired by bulls with longer Gestation Lengths. Thus the progeny of bulls with shorter Gestation Length EBVs are generally smaller at birth, and in turn, more likely to be delivered with less calving difficulties.


Bulls with higher, more positive Calving Ease Direct EBVs are more favourable, as they are more likely to have calves that are born unassisted from 2 year old heifers. For those in self-replacing herd situations, higher, more positive Calving Ease Daughters EBVS are also desirable in a heifer bull. These two traits need to be carefully managed to avoid decreasing the calving ease ability of future heifers.

For further information regarding selection of heifer bulls, or to discuss the relationshiops between the traits discussed in this article, please contact staff at SBTS or TBTS. 19

Brahmans Fit to Meet Global Market Opportunities


pportunities for Brahmans in a Changing World was the theme of the World Brahman Congress Technical Conference, which treated the 300 delegates with up to the minute reports on global market trends, industry research and best practice management. MLA Managing Director Richard Norton kicked off the jam-packed program, saying Queensland and the Northern Territory were the “engine room” of Australia’s beef industry. These two states provide 47 percent of Australia’s beef production and supply 70 percent of live cattle exports. Mr Norton said 1.2 million cattle were exported in 2014 and forecasts were for 1 million head to be shipped this year. The industry has invested $14 million over the past five years on implementing the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) to enhance animal welfare in the live export sector. Indonesia is our largest importer, with shipments in 2015 totalling 618,796 head. Mr Norton said there was concern about Indonesia considering the importation of cattle and meat products from countries or zones free from Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) or those with official FMD control programs, such as India and Brazil.

Adolfo Fortes, Senior Analyst, Rabobank, Brazil gave a presentation on “Opportunities for Brahmans in a changing World”.

“Should this policy take effect, Indonesia would be the only major beef importing country free from FMD without vaccination to allow imports from FMD countries,” Mr Norton said. He told delegates that there were opportunities to expand our chilled beef exports to China and develop feeder and slaughter markets in the longer term. “China is a high risk, high reward market. Over the past 20 years we have developed the reputation of supplying meat that is safe to eat and from a clean environment. They see our beef as being fresh, most superior and a taste delicacy. “In terms of supplying feeder and slaughter cattle to China there are difficult and costly protocols, but it is possible. Brazil is our main competitor,” he told the conference. In the domestic market, Mr Norton said beef consumption had been declining due to perceived health issues, but was now growing its share against other protein sources. “We are the world’s largest in lamb consumption and we should be concentrating on building beef brands in our domestic market,” he said.

Dr Mohd Azid Kabul, Cattle Integration Manager, Sawit Kinubulu, Sabah Malaysia outlined the opportunities and challenges involved in grazing Brahman cattle in palm oil plantations in tropical regions.

Adolf Fontes, Rabobank Senior Analyst, Brazil told delegates that a forecast world population of 9.1 billion by 2050 meant 20

there would be more food required in the first half of this

has 54 million cattle, Sudan 41 million, Tanzania 25 million,

century than in the past 7000 years of human habitation.

Nigeria 20 million, and Kenya 18 million.

Growing urbanisation and increasing income would position

Only a small northern portion of Namibia is FMD free and

China and Hong Kong as the biggest beef consumers in the

eighty percent of the livestock in this zone is exported on the

next decade, requiring an additional 740,000 tonnes per year.

hoof to South Africa. The country also exports beef to high

Mr Fontes said although Brazil had 220 million cattle and was

value markets in the EU and Norway.

the world’s second biggest beef exporter, logistical challenges

“We also sell to the United States and Russia, and 10 days ago

such as traffic congestion and poor transport infrastructure

signed protocols with China and Hong Kong,” Mr Schneider

were current impediments for growing the trade.


Degraded pastures meant per head production was lower than

Brahman Cattle Breeders Society of South Africa President

that of Australia and the United States and there was room for

Wessel Hattingh said there were 14 million cattle in his

genetic improvement of the largely Nelore national herd.

country, and Brahman was the fourth biggest stud breed after Bonsmara, Nguni and Beefmaster, with 137 herds and 55,782

n genetics may improve the quality of our Nelore cattle and there’s a huge opportunity for that in this country,” he said.

registered animals.

Although parts of Brazil have been declared Foot and Mouth

“Recent research showed that Brahmans and Brahman-type dams make up fifty-two percent of the national herd,” Mr

Disease (FMD) free, and other zones are FMD free with vaccination, Mr Fontes said the next milestone was to get the

Hattingh said.

whole of South America FMD free without vaccination.

He told the conference that climate change was a big threat,

Mecki Schneider, Past President of the Namibian Brahman

and Brahmans were well positioned to thrive under tougher

Breeders Association told delegates in his Brahmans Around

environmental conditions.

the World update that while China was a hugely expanding

“Our breed Council has set several dynamic programs in motion

beef market, Africa was the sleeping giant.

during the past year with the sole objective to improve our breed through the implementation of promotional activities,

“Africa is the elephant asleep and has huge potential. In thirty or forty years time Africa will be the China of today,”

participation in different genetic projects, training of breeders

Mr Schneider said. “Africa is the only continent with enough

and the ongoing advancement of our breed abroad.

unused soil to feed the world.”

“We decided to focus on certain traits of the breed in order

Namibia has a herd of 3.5 million cattle, which is small

to differentiate Brahmans as the leading seedstock and beef

compared to other African countries. For example, Ethiopia

producing breed in Southern Africa,” he said.

Conference Chairman Don Healy OAM is pictured with speakers Dr David Johnston who gave 2 presentations - “The latest Brahman research to improve female and male reproduction” and “Innovations in incorporating genomics in genetic evaluations” and Dr Matt Wolcott who spoke on “Consequences of selection for cow size and body composition traits in Brahmans”.

Mecki Schneider, Namibia and Billy Badilla, the Philippines both gave presentations on the Brahman industry in their respective countries. 21

Optimise Joining Using MateSel


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

MateSel creates additional genetic progress within a breeding program by generating a suggested mating list from a list of

objective. A flat fee of $165 (inc GST) applies to access a

sires and dams that a seedstock producer nominates as being

MateSel analysis, and results are returned promptly, usually

available for use within their upcoming joining program.

within one working day.

MateSel not only allows seedstock members to maximise

MateSel is a valuable addition to the BREEDPLAN suite of

genetic progress whilst managing inbreeding, but will also save

tools that are that are offered by the Agricultural Business

significant time previously spent compiling mating lists.

Research Institute (ABRI) in Armidale, NSW.

MateSel is fully customised to the breeding program of each

Seedstock members interested in learning more about MateSel

individual seedstock operation with the seedstock producer

should visit the BREEDPLAN website (http://breedplan.une.

choosing acceptable inbreeding limits by selecting one of three breeding strategies, “Genetic Diversity”, “Balanced” or “High and click on the MateSel icon on the right hand side,

Genetic Gain” and providing details of their desired breeding

or contact staff at SBTS or TBTS.



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.

Articles and information on upcoming events (e.g. webinar series, BullSELECT workshops) are routinely posted on Facebook and Twitter. The YouTube channel contains video presentations from past webinar series and short ‘Understanding BREEDPLAN EBVs’ video clips.

TO FOLLOW > SBTS and TBTS on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube simply go to the SBTS or TBTS website and click on the relevant icon, or go directly to the following Facebook, Twitter or YouTube accounts:



Monthly GROUP BREEDPLAN Analyses for Red Poll & Braford n 2016, both Australian Red Poll Cattle Breeders Inc. and the Australian Braford Society upgraded the software used to manage their pedigree and performance database

the running of monthly GROUP BREEDPLAN analyses and

to ABRI’s new generation of breed registry software known as

is provided to members of Red Poll BREEDPLAN and Braford

ILR2. The new software includes several new features such as



production of enhanced GROUP BREEDPLAN herd reports. This will significantly enhance the BREEDPLAN service that

2016 Breeding Focus Improving Welfare n September, SBTS staff attended Breeding Focus 2016 - Improving Welfare, in Armidale NSW. This two day conference had a number of informative presentations and

can determine whether an animal is homozygous polled or heterozygous polled (one copy of the poll allele). This test has assisted naturally horned breeds to significantly increase the

discussions about using genetics to improve animal welfare.

proportion of polled animals in their breed in recent years.

On the first day of the conference, Dr. Natalie Connors from

On the second day of the conference, Dr Sam Walkom from

AGBU spoke on ‘Breeding polled cattle in Australia’. As Natalie

AGBU spoke on ‘Improving the temperament of Australian

discussed in her presentation, CSIRO estimates that bruising

cattle and implications for welfare’. Sam discussed how docility

injuries caused by horns costs the Australian meat industry

scoring data (more typically collected in Southern production

$30 million per year1. In addition, horns also increase the risk

systems) and flight time measurements (more typically

of injury to cattle handlers. For these reasons, many naturally horned cattle in Australia have their horns removed at a young

collected in Northern production systems) can be used to

age. While dehorning is common practice, it is also painful,

calculate Docility and Flight Time EBVS respectively. In turn,

and places cattle at risk of infection and death.

these Temperament EBVs can be used to select for more docile

Naturally polled cattle, however, do not need to be dehorned,

cattle. To demonstrate that selecting for temperament does

and thus offer an alternative to horned cattle. Using

work, Sam presented a Limousin case study showing the large

homozygous polled (two copies of the poll allele) bulls is the

gains made in docility in this breed over the past 20 years.

fastest way to increase the proportion of polled cattle in a


CSIRO (2014) Annual Report 2013-2014. New Millennium Print. Available at

herd. There is now a DNA test available for most breeds which 23

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:


Alex McDonald



Simmental Limousin T (02) 6773 2472 M 0412 811 123

Catriona Millen

Blonde d’Aquitaine Charolais Devon Hereford Murray Grey

Red Angus Red Poll Salers Shorthorn Speckle Park T (02) 6773 3357 M 0409 102 644

Paul Williams

Brahman Brangus Droughtmaster

Santa Gertrudis Senepol Simbrah T (07) 4927 6066 M 0427 018 982

Carel Teseling

Wagyu T (02) 6773 4222 M 0439 368 283

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

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

Southern Beef Technology Services Telephone: (02) 6773 3555 Email: Web: 24