WINTER 2018 UPDATE
Performance Recording in Drought Conditions
any regions of Australia have received below average rainfall throughout autumn and winter 2018. Given the seasonal conditions, we thought it would be
Consider the weights of the 12 animals shown in Table 1. In
timely to discuss some of the issues that come up in regards to
range from 398 kg (Animal 4) to 328 kg (Animal 10); there are
recording performance information in drought conditions. This
a number of animals that have performed above the average of
article will discuss whether performance information recorded
the contemporary group, and a number of animals that have
under drought conditions is valid for genetic evaluation purposes,
performed below the average of the contemporary group.
a non-drought year, under normal seasonal conditions, the average 200 day weight of these animals is 360.6 kg. The animals
Generally speaking, we would expect animals that perform above
and outline some of the trait specific considerations that beef
the average of the contemporary group to have 200 Day Growth
producers should consider if continuing to collect performance information under challenging seasonal conditions.
EBVs that are above their mid parent value, and animals that
Can I Still Record Performance Information in a
200 Day Growth EBVs that are below their mid parent value.
perform below the average of the contemporary group to have
Now consider the weights of the 12 animals shown in Table 2.
Yes. Many producers are worried that lighter weights on
In a poor year, under drought conditions with limited feed, the
their animals will lower their EBVs, but this is not the case.
average 200 day weight of these animals is 255.9 kg. While the
BREEDPLAN analyses animals within contemporary groups;
weights are lower than they would be in a non-drought year, we
that is, animals that have had equal opportunity to perform. It is
still see a spread in weights, with the heaviest animal weighing
not the raw weight of an animal that is important, but rather how
295 kg, and the lightest animal weighing 223 kg. As was the
that animal has performed relative to the rest of its peers.
case in the non-drought year, some animals perform above the
SBTS & TBTS provide a national extension network for genetic technologies for the Australian beef seedstock industry 1
Table 1. 200 day weights of 12 animals under normal seasonal conditions (non-drought).
The Repronomics Project Enabling Genetic Improvement in Reproduction in Northern Australia 15
Lessons from the 2018 World Congress for Genetics Applied to Livestock Production 17
IN THIS ISSUE Performance Recording in Drought Conditions
Using the EBV Percentile Graph in Sale Catalogues
The BREEDPLAN Analysis and Outliers
The Maternal Female: What Makes A Good Cow?
Single-Step BREEDPLAN What Have We Learnt So Far? 13
Talking Genetics at BEEF 2018
BREEDPLAN Discussion Group Now on Facebook 20 Get Social With SBTS & TBTS
TBTS Visits Western Australia
Australian Gelbvieh Association Re-join SBTS Project 21 SBTS Facilitates Regional Forums and BullSELECT Workshops in Western Australia 22 Help Your Clients to Purchase the Right Bulls with a BullSELECT Workshop 23 TBTS 2018 Regional Forums
Locations of BREEDPLAN Members of SBTS & TBTS Stakeholder Breed Societies
Speckle Park & Senepol Upgrade to ILR2 Software
Optimise Joining Using MateSel 27 Accessing Support in Application of Genetic Technologies 28
average of their contemporary group, while other animals perform below the average of their contemporary group. Their EBVs will reflect their performance relative to the other animals in their contemporary group. Can Drought Conditions Impact Performance Recording? While the poor performance of animals due to drought conditions can be handled by the BREEDPLAN analysis, there are numerous factors that have the potential to Table 2. 200 day weights of 12 animals under drought conditions.
compromise the effectiveness of performance recording under
criteria (e.g. sex, prior management groups, prior weigh
drought conditions. Usually, these factors revolve around the
dates). In addition, try to weigh all calves before splitting
forced implementation of management practices that can
the group (e.g. weigh all calves at home before sending out
cause considerable disruption to routine stud operations and/
onto different agistment properties).
or the poor condition of stock.
group information. A different management group code
For example: n
should be entered for any calf or group of calves that have
Animals may be placed on agistment, often on a number of
been treated differently or exposed to different non-genetic
properties. This can make performance recording difficult
influences on performance. For example, a sick animal
(e.g. yards and/or scales not available on all properties)
should be placed into a different group to animals that are
and can result in animals that would normally be managed
not sick, and mobs running on different properties should
together being split into multiple management groups (e.g.
be placed into different management groups.
one or more management group per property). n
Calves may be weaned early. This could mean that they younger than 80 days of age at weaning).
What Other Considerations Should Be Made When Recording Performance Information Under Drought Conditions?
Animals may display an increased and varied incidence of
In addition to the above strategies, there are several other
are too young to be performance recorded at weaning (e.g. n
disease and/or sickness. Where animals are sick and this
considerations when recording performance information in
has had an effect on performance, the sick animal should
not be directly compared to other animals which were not
sick. Thus, increased incidence of sick animals will impact
and 300 days of age when the weight is recorded. Therefore,
A large number of animals may be dispersed. Once again,
it is important to ensure that the youngest calf is 80 days or
this may impact on contemporary group formation for
older when taking a 200 day weight. If calves are younger
the herd (e.g. increased prevalence of small contemporary
than 80 days of age at weaning, postpone taking weights on
the whole cohort until the youngest calf is 80 days of age or older.
What Management Practices can be Taken to Reduce the Disruption of Drought?
weaning (provided the youngest calf is 80 days of age or
the disruption that drought has on the effectiveness of
older) and then take a second weight later. If taking two
weights, ensure at least a month between the two weights.
Producers should consider which traits are important
to their breeding program and/or the breeding program
recording of the associated mature cow weights should also
they record. With time often a constraint under drought
be delayed. Mature cow weights should be taken within
conditions, limiting performance recording to a core of
two weeks of the 200 day weights of the calves.
important traits can be an adequate interim measure. Alternatively, maintaining the traits that you record but
limiting your performance recording to a subset of animals
Animals should only have ultrasound scanning information recorded if they are in adequate condition. To obtain
(e.g. your bull calves) may be a suitable short term option.
effective results, animals should have a minimum average
If utilising either of these options, it is important to resume
rib fat depth of 3 mm and a minimum average rump fat
whole herd and full trait recording as soon as possible.
depth of 4-5 mm. This ensures that there will be sufficient variation between animals to allow genetic differences to
possible, the number of animals within each
contemporary group should be maximised and/or maintained. BREEDPLAN will use the performance
information of an animal more effectively if there are a
The fertility performance of cows running under drought conditions can provide very valuable information for the
large number of other animals to compare it with. n
In situations where the recording of the 200 day weights of your calves is delayed, it is important to remember that the
of their clients, and potentially rationalise the traits that
BREEDPLAN can analyse two 200 day weights per animal. If early weaning, it may be beneficial to weigh all calves at
There are a number of strategies that can be taken to minimise
If early weaning, remember that BREEDPLAN can only analyse the 200 day weights of calves that are between 80
on contemporary group formation for the herd. n
Care should be given to submit accurate management
BREEDPLAN analysis. In drought situations, there will
If a contemporary group has to be split for management
generally be more pressure placed on female fertility than
reasons (e.g. splitting calves across two agistment
normal and this can have benefits for genetic evaluation.
properties) create the new groups based on â€œautomaticâ€?
However, the usefulness of the fertility information can 3
decrease if there are significant non-genetic factors that cannot be accounted for (e.g. disease). If you have any concerns about the quality of your fertility information in a drought, please contact staff at BREEDPLAN, SBTS or TBTS to discuss your concerns prior to submitting this information. n
Performance information should be recorded for animals, even if they have lost weight. Animals are only directly compared to other animals that have been treated alike. It is how the animal performs relative to the other animals in the contemporary group that is important, not the raw measurement itself.
Where an animal has been sick and/or ill, and this has affected its performance, then it should be placed into a separate management group to calves that were not sick and/or ill. In extreme situations, if the drought has resulted in a high and varied incidence of disease and/or sickness, careful consideration needs to be given as to whether to record the performance for that particular group of animals. If there have been significant differences in nongenetic influences that cannot be accounted for, recording performance may bias the EBVs of these calves. Please contact staff at BREEDPLAN, SBTS or TBTS if you are concerned that this may be an issue for your herd.
Conclusion Beef producers are able to continue to record performance information in drought conditions. As it is the relative performance of an animal that is important (e.g. how did the animal perform relative to the rest of the animals in the contemporary group) and not the raw performance value, a decrease in production due to drought conditions will not lower an animalâ€™s EBVs. Despite this, drought conditions can bring with them some unique challenges. Given that producers are likely to have increased workloads in a drought, potential short term options might be to decrease the number of traits being recorded (e.g. subset of traits directly relating to a breeding objective) or to decrease the number of animals being performance recorded (e.g. just bulls). Animals should still be managed in
If calves are younger than this at weaning, then weighing of
as large a group as possible, although this can be challenging
the calves and of their dams (for mature cow weight) should
when animals are being agisted across multiple properties.
be delayed until the youngest calf is 80 days of age or older.
Care should also be taken to ensure that management groups
Equally, maintaining stock in an acceptable condition for
are correct â€“ particularly as the incidence of sick or diseased
ultrasound scanning may be more challenging under drought
animals may be higher under drought conditions.
conditions. Animals should have a minimum average rump fat depth of 4-5 mm and a minimum average rib fat depth of 3 mm
When to record certain traits may also need extra consideration
under drought conditions. For example, if doing an early weaning, it is important to remember that calves should be a
For further information on recording performance information
minimum of 80 days of age when a 200 day weight is recorded.
in drought, please contact staff at SBTS or TBTS. 4
Using the EBV Percentile Graph in Sale Catalogues
n the last SBTS & TBTS Update, the EBV Percentile Graph was introduced. This graph provides cattle producers with a visual representation of how the EBVs of an individual
of different animals. This makes it a great tool for beef producers looking to use BREEDPLAN EBVs and Selection Indexes as a part of their selection decisions. In this article, we will explore
animal rank in comparison to the rest of the breed.
how the EBV Percentile Graph can be used in sale catalogues,
It can be used to quickly get a feel for the strengths and
incorporated the EBV Percentile Graph into their own sale
and speak to several seedstock producers who have recently
weaknesses of individual animals, and to compare the attributes
catalogues about their experiences with doing so.
The Storth Oaks Angus Experience At Storth Oaks Angus in Otorohanga, New Zealand, Tim and Kelly Brittain have been using the EBV Percentile Graphs in their sale catalogues since 2017. For each lot, a three generation pedigree, a colour EBV Percentile Graph, BREEDPLAN EBVs, Selection Indexes and structural assessment scores for a range of structural traits are displayed (Figure 1). There are two lots to a page, and breed average EBVs are displayed at the bottom of each page.
Tim and Kelly Brittain, Storth Oaks Angus
decision to incorporate the graphs into our sale catalogue and have the extra pages. In my opinion it also makes the catalogue more presentable!”
So far, the response from clients has been positive. “We have not had any negative feedback, and a number of customers have commented that they like having the graphs in the sale catalogue”. Tim and Kelly plan to continue to incorporate the EBV Percentile Graphs in their sale catalogues in future years. “I believe the majority of farmers prefer to see things presented graphically,” says Tim. “However, we do have some customers, perhaps a third, that prefer to see the EBVs. I’m in that camp myself.” For this reason, Tim and Kelly don’t envisage that they will ever have a sale catalogue that does not display EBVs. Instead they will cater to everyone by having both the EBVs and the EBV Percentile Graphs in their sale catalogues. Would Tim encourage others to include the EBV Percentile Graphs in their own sale catalogues? “Certainly. I think it helps many farmers to understand what the numbers mean if they have the graphical mind that I mentioned.” He knows of at least two other studs in New Zealand that have recently incorporated the EBV Percentile Graphs into their own sale catalogues. While some may be concerned at the extra cost of incorporating an EBV Percentile Graph for each lot into their sale catalogues, Tim says that for Storth Oaks, the costs have been minimal. “Previously we had three lots to a page, but really the cost between having two or three lots to a page was so small that it made no difference to our
Figure 1. An example page from the 2017 Storth Oaks Angus catalogue. Each lot (two per page) has a three generation pedigree, a colour EBV Percentile Graph, BREEDPLAN EBVs, Selection Indexes and structural assessment scores for a range of structural traits provided, while breed average EBVs are displayed at the bottom of each page.
The Whangara Angus Experience At Whangara Angus in Gisborne, New Zealand, EBV Percentile Graphs have been included in sale catalogues since 2016. There are three lots per page, with breed average EBVs displayed at the bottom of each page (Figure 2). Each lot has a two generation pedigree, a colour EBV Percentile Graph, BREEDPLAN EBVs and Selection Indexes, while structural scores are provided for a range of structural traits.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, Whangara Angus.
for Birth Weight, but we need to know the Birth Weight EBV number to determine what females a bull would be suitable for. For us they go hand in hand.”
Kristin Kirkpatrick, along with husband Robbie, manages the day-to-day operation of the farm for owner Patrick Lane. We asked Kristin what it was that led to the introduction of the EBV Percentile Graph in the Whangara Angus sale catalogue. Kristin explains, “Our decision to include the EBV Percentile Graphs in our catalogues came after hosting a Bull Buying workshop with Beef and Lamb New Zealand. The feedback on the EBV Percentile Graphs from commercial farmers at this workshop was overwhelming; many felt that the EBV Percentile Graphs were a great way to understand the EBVs. Adding the EBV Percentile Graph to our sale catalogue as a visual component was something simple we could do to help our clients and other potential bull buyers.”
What recommendations does Kristin have for other producers who are considering including the EBV Percentile Graph in their own sale catalogues? “Do it. Including the EBV Percentile Graphs in your sale catalogue will give added value to your potential buyers. It helps your clients, who are your number one priority, by giving them a new way to gain understanding on the information at their disposal.”
A potential increase in sale catalogue production cost was not a factor in this decision. “We want clients to have access to all the facts in order to make the best bull buying decisions, so that they can make more money. Including the EBV Percentile Graphs in our sale catalogues is something we feel as seedstock producer we need to do to be 100% transparent to farmers about what they are purchasing.” Like Tim, Kristin has found that there are some clients who prefer to see the numbers. “While we do have clients that prefer to see the EBVs, the EBV Percentile Graphs have been a great addition for those who had difficulties using the EBVs in their number form. We have found that a lot of people like the visual representation.” This is certainly the case at Whangara, where the EBV Percentile Graph is used to get an indication of whether individual animals being considered for purchase would be suitable for the stud. Kristin feels that there will always be a demand for both the EBVs and the EBV Percentile Graphs. “They are really best utilised together. For example, the EBV Percentile Graph might indicate that the animal is heavier than breed average
Figure 2. An example page from the 2018 Whangara Angus sale catalogue. Each lot (three per page) has a two generation pedigree, a colour EBV Percentile Graph, BREEDPLAN EBVs, Selection Indexes and structural assessment scores for a range of structural traits. Breed average EBVs are displayed at the bottom of each page.
For further information on the EBV Percentile Graph, please read
the ‘Introducing the EBV Percentile Graph: Where Does This
SBTS & TBTS wish to thank Tim Brittain from Storth Oaks
Animal Rank?’ technical note which can be found under Technical
Angus and Kristin Kirkpatrick from Whangara Angus for
Documents on both the SBTS (http://sbts.une.edu.au/) and TBTS
their contributions to this article. As both the Storth Oaks and
(http://tbts.une.edu.au/) websites. Should you have any further
Whangara experiences have shown, the EBV Percentile Graphs are
questions about where to find the EBV Percentile Graph or how
a valuable tool which can assist clients with their understanding of
to use this information in your sale catalogue, please contact staff
BREEDPLAN information and thus their bull purchasing decisions.
at SBTS or TBTS. 6
The BREEDPLAN Analysis and Outliers by the breeder when transcribing the paddock record on to
What is an Outlier?
Every time a BREEDPLAN analysis is run, the variation
between the performance information of animals within
Incorrect animal details recorded. An example recently encountered was where a bull calf had been incorrectly
each contemporary group is examined. While a certain
recorded as a heifer and thus it’s weight was incorrectly
degree of variation in performance is expected within
compared against other heifer calves.
each contemporary group, when the difference between a n
performance record for an animal and the average of all animals
Animals placed in an incorrect contemporary group. For example, a bull was recently identified as an outlier because
in the contemporary group is much greater than we would
it was 150kg heavier than the average of the contemporary
normally expect for the trait measured, the record for this
group. It turned out that the bull had been on feed for a show
animal is identified as an “outlier”. For statistical enthusiasts, a
and thus should have been put in a different management
performance record will be identified as an outlier if it is more
group (not previously indicated).
than three phenotypic standard deviations from the average of the group (after adjusting for age at measurement and age of
Some animals will be genuinely significantly genetically superior or inferior to their peers.
What happens to Outlier records? When outlier data is identified, it is flagged and excluded from the BREEDPLAN analysis. A report is then generated which lists all contemporary groups in which outliers have been identified. A hardcopy outlier report is posted to the breeder and an electronic version is made available in the Internet Solutions download area (titled:
nnnn.pdf where ABC is an example herd code and nnnn is a number). A set of instructions on how to deal with outliers typically accompany the hardcopy outlier report and can also be found in the Internet Solutions download area (titled: BREEDPLAN-outlier-explanation.pdf ). A tip sheet on outliers can also be found on the BREEDPLAN website. Once an outlier has been corrected or verified, the data will be included in future BREEDPLAN analyses. However, if an outlier is NOT corrected or verified, it will continue to be OMMITTED from
For some breed societies, a pre analysis check is also carried out when data is submitted. This check identifies potential outliers
at data entry. As a result, if outliers identified by this check are
It is also important to note that breeders can retrospectively go
verified or corrected before the BREEDPLAN analysis occurs,
back to any recent outliers that can be found in their Internet
this data can be included straight away rather than identified in
Solutions download area and correct and/or verify these
one analysis and then having to wait before being potentially
records at any time.
included in the next analysis.
The Outlier Report
Why does BREEDPLAN check for Outliers?
In the report, animals with outliers (ABCK053 in example
The purpose of identifying outliers is to check for any potential
on next page) are marked in bold with the symbol # in both
recording errors which may have occurred during the data
the left hand and right hand margins and adjacent to the Raw
collection. Typically, there are four main sources of outliers: n Incorrect
Observation. Also reported are the other animals with which
measurement recorded. As an example, we
the outlier animal has been directly compared within the
recently had a case where the birth weight was transposed
BREEDPLAN analysis (the contemporary group). Different 7
contemporary groups are separated in the outlier report by blank lines (not shown in the example below as only one outlier, and hence one contemporary group, is present). The outlier report gives both the raw observation (the outlier is 658kg), which should match the data recorded on farm, and
Is the sex of the animal correct?
Is the date of birth of the animal correct?
Are the sire and dam of the animal correct?
Is the birth number of the animal correct? (ie. twin vs
the adjusted observation (580 kg). The adjusted observation
is adjusted for age (to 600 days for final weight) and for dam
age. In this example, the breeder checked the raw observation
Is the birth status of the animal correct? (ie. ET vs natural).
3. The animal is being analysed in the correct contemporary
against what was written down on farm and found there had
been an error in transcription with the bull actually weighing 858kg not 658kg.
Has the animal had the same opportunity to perform as the other animals in the contemporary group?
What Do Breeders Need to Do?
> Was it sick or injured? (i.e. non-genetic factors leading to
The outlier report gives you the opportunity to correct or
verify the performance for the animals that have been flagged as outliers and to confirm the group of animals against which
> Did it or its dam receive preferential treatment? (e.g. been
this animal is being compared. The recent SBTS & TBTS
prepared for show/sale or other non-genetic factors leading
Regional Forums, when breeders were asked whether they
to better performance)
checked their outlier reports and verified or corrected the
records with BREEDPLAN, only half stated that they always
Has the management group information been correctly recorded?
check and respond to their outlier reports. For those who donâ€™t respond to their outlier reports, their outlier data continues
Once these checks have been made, inform BREEDPLAN of
to be excluded. This means that animals which are potentially
any corrections required or verify that the information has
genetically superior to their peers are not benefitting from
been checked and you believe it to be correct. In response,
the outlier performance data records in these herds. Having learned of the benefits of responding to their outlier reports,
100% said they would do so in the future.
1. Correct the record
group of records carefully and report back to BREEDPLAN
record will be verified on the BREEDPLAN system and included in future analyses.
1. The performance information has been correctly recorded. This includes: n
Is the measurement date correct?
Is the measurement allocated to the correct animal?
2. If the owner confirms that the record is correct, the outlier
staff at ABRI. It is recommended that you check:
Is the measurement correct?
included in future BREEDPLAN analyses, or
To correct or verify outliers, each breeder needs to check each
However, if the breeder does not contact BREEDPLAN to correct or verify these outlier records, the outlier records will be excluded from not only the BREEDPLAN analysis in which they were identified, but will remain excluded from all future BREEDPLAN analyses.
2. The animal details have been correctly recorded. 8
The Maternal Female: What Makes A Good Cow? compliance levels at each step, the problems will simply repeat
themselves in subsequent calving drops.
Females play an important role in the herd. Not only does
A classic example of this is seen in the change in docility in
she contribute 50% of her genetics to her calf, but she is also
Australian Limousin. While breeders were culling animals
required to get pregnant, give birth, wean her calf and get
with poor temperaments from each calving drop, it wasn’t until
back in calf, all while maintaining her own condition at an
the Docility EBV was introduced that breeders were able to
acceptable level. This article will examine the traits that make
make informed decisions about which sires and dams to select
a good maternal female, and examine how genetics can help
(previously poor temperament was passed on because the
to improve compliance levels within the herd for each of these important life stages.
environmental effects confounded the underlying genetics of
The Maternal Female
broken in was still producing calves with poor temperament).
the trait – e.g. a “quiet” bull who was quiet because he had been As genetic progress was made within the breed for docility,
The job of a female (whether a maiden heifer or an older cow)
the incidence of calves which needed to be culled for poor
in the breeding herd is to:
1. Get in calf (in the first or second cycle) and carry the calf to
In a similar manner, genetics can be used to improve the
percentage of females in the herd which are getting in calf,
2. Give birth to a live calf (without assistance).
giving birth to a live calf unassisted, weaning the calf and
3. Wean the calf.
getting back in calf. Let us explore which of the BREEDPLAN
4. Get back in calf, thus repeating the cycle in the next year.
traits are important for a maternal female throughout her life, particularly during pregnancy, calving, while raising the calf to
In addition, she should do all of this without consuming excessive amounts of feed (in turn improving the stocking rate
weaning and for her own maintenance.
for the property, and thus giving producers the option to run
The first test for any female is to get in calf and carry the calf to
While beef producers will often cull cows from the herd that do
term. Ideally, a female should be getting pregnant in the first or
not perform at each step, simply removing the individual cow
second cycle. This allows the producer to have a short joining
does not remove the underlying poor genetics from within the
period (in a fertile herd, this shouldn’t compromise pregnancy
herd (as the parents and/or progeny are not culled). Without
rates) and thus calve down over a shorter time (reducing the
making genetic improvement within the herd to improve
number of weeks the producer needs to check pregnant heifers
and cows for calving difficulties). Calves born from matings in the first or second cycle also have a significant age, and thus weight, advantage over their late-born herd mates. Failure of a heifer to get pregnant is often due to her not being sexually mature at the time she was out with the bull. A heifer may not be sexually mature because she is a late maturing type (e.g. the tall lanky animal), or because she was born late in the season and is younger than the other heifers (e.g. the small young animal). In both situations, the fertility traits (Days to Calving and Scrotal Size EBVs) are important. The Days to Calving EBV describes the genetic differences between animals in the time from the start of the joining period (i.e. when the female is introduced to the bull) until subsequent calving, and is expressed in days. Most variation in this trait occurs in how long it takes the female to get pregnant
Thus, the ideal maternal female should have more negative
(e.g. did she get pregnant in the first cycle, second cycle or not
Days to Calving EBVs (indicating a shorter Days to Calving)
at all), with only a small amount of variation in this trait being
and more positive Scrotal Size EBVs.
due to gestation length (Figure 1). Lower, more negative Days to Calving EBVs are more desirable, as they indicate shorter
Days to Calving (e.g. females that conceive earlier in the joining
The next important test for a female in the breeding herd is to
give birth to a live calf, without assistance. Calving difficulty has a negative impact on the profitability of the herd due to
Similarly, Scrotal Size EBVs are another important indicator
increased calf, heifer and sometimes even cow mortality,
of fertility in the female herd. While this may seem counter-
slower re-breeding performance and considerable additional
intuitive (after all, a heifer does not have a scrotum), research has shown that bulls with higher Scrotal Size EBVs tend to
labour and veterinary expenses.
be more early maturing than those with lower Scrotal Size
While non-genetic factors can contribute to calving difficulty
EBVs. In turn, bulls with higher Scrotal Size EBVs tend to have
(itâ€™s still important to keep heifers and cows in optimal
daughters that mature earlier than the daughters of bulls with
condition in the lead up to calving), there are a number of
lower Scrotal Size EBVs.
genetic factors that also influence calving difficulty. These
Figure 1. Most variation in the Days to Calving EBV is due to the time taken for the female to get pregnant once she is out with the bull.
include birth weight, gestation length, shape of the calf, pelvic area and willingness of the cow to push. These factors are covered by several BREEDPLAN EBVs; namely Calving Ease Direct, Calving Ease Daughters, Gestation Length and Birth Weight.
However, it is important to note that the optimum Milk EBV is dependent upon the production system and the environment in which the cows are run. Selection for increased milk production may be warranted when cows are run under good nutritional conditions (e.g. improved pasture), while other poorer environments (e.g. scrubby rangeland) may not support cows with higher Milk EBVs. In addition, high milking cows may not get back in calf as easily as lower milking cows in the following year. Thus, while the ideal maternal female should provide adequate nutrition to raise the calf to weaning, the optimum Milk EBV for a maternal female will depend on the environment in which she is run.
The Calving Ease Direct EBV describes the genetic differences in the ability of a sireâ€™s calves to be born unassisted from two year old heifers, while the Calving Ease Daughters EBV describes the genetic differences in the ability of a sireâ€™s two year old daughters to calve without assistance. Both EBVs are reported as differences in the percentage of unassisted calvings, with higher, more positive Calving Ease EBVs (indicating less calving difficulty) being more desirable. In a self-replacing herd system, where daughters are retained for breeding, both Calving Ease EBVs are of importance. It is important to note that both traits relate to calving difficulty as expressed in two year old heifers; a bull that has had no calving issues when mated to mature cows may still cause trouble for heifers.
4. Maintenance In addition to getting pregnant, giving birth to a live calf, weaning the calf and getting back in calf, a maternal cow should perform all of these tasks without consuming excessive amounts of feed. Given that feed costs are among some of the most expensive costs on a farm, the weight of a mature cow will have a major influence on net profitability. This is because, in general, lighter cows will tend to eat less, thus having lower feed requirements and being less expensive to maintain. Conversely, given live weight is the major determinant in the value of cull cows, heavier cows may provide higher returns when selling cull cows. It is important to achieve an appropriate balance between feed requirements over the lifetime of the cow and her value as a cull animal.
The Gestation Length EBV describes the genetic differences between animals in gestation length, and is expressed in days. Lower, more negative Gestation Length EBVs indicate a shorter gestation length and thus are more desirable. In general, a shorter gestation length results in a smaller calf, which is usually born with less difficulty than a larger calf and also gives the cow a longer period of time to rebreed without falling later and later in the breeding season each year.
The Mature Cow Weight EBV describes the genetic differences between cows in live weight at 5 years of age, and is expressed in kilograms. A higher, more positive Mature Cow Weight EBV indicates an animal that would produce progeny with a higher mature weight than an animal with a lower Mature Cow Weight EBV. While it is important for producers to optimise the balance between feed requirement and cull value, in general the ideal maternal female should have a low to moderate Mature Cow Weight EBV, as this will reduce her feed requirements over her lifetime.
The Birth Weight EBV describes the genetic differences between animals in calf birth weight, and is expressed in kilograms. Small, or moderate, Birth Weight EBVs are generally more favourable, as they indicate lighter birth weights. In general, a lighter calf at birth is likely to result in less calving difficulty than a heavier calf, although of course there can be exceptions. This is because birth weight, as mentioned above, is not the only factor that influences calving difficulty. The ideal maternal female should have more positive Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Daughters EBVs (indicating less calving difficulty), more negative Gestation Length EBVs (indicating shorter gestation length) and a low to moderate Birth Weight EBV (indicating lower birth weight). 3. Raising the Calf to Weaning The next test for the female is to raise her calf to weaning. A good maternal cow should provide adequate nutrition to raise the calf to weaning, and wean her calf with an adequate weaning weight. The Milk EBV provides an estimate of the maternal contribution of a dam to the 200 day weight of her calf. The Milk EBV is expressed in kilograms and indicates the expected difference in the weight of the calf at 200 days due to the maternal contribution of the cow. 11
Another trait that gives a measure of cow maintenance is
the female as this will allow them to avoid carrier to carrier
net feed intake. Net Feed Intake (NFI) EBVs are measures
matings; although this becomes less important when the bulls
of genetic differences between animals in feed intake
being used in the herd have been tested free for the relevant
at a standard weight and rate of weight gain. The NFI-
genetic conditions. In the same way, producers breeding for
Post Weaning (NFI-P) EBV is a measure of feed efficiency
polled animals may wish to know the horn/poll status of the
when animals are in a growing phase, while the NFI-Feedlot
females to avoid producing horned calves (unless using a
Finishing (NFI-F) EBV is a measure of feed efficiency when
homozygous polled bull). This is less of a consideration for
animals are in a feedlot finishing phase. For both NFI EBVs, a
those wishing to breed only horned calves â€“ given horns are
more negative EBV indicates a more feed efficient animal (e.g.
recessive, simply select bulls and females with visible horns.
animal consumes less feed than expected given its weight and growth profile). While an EBV for net feed intake in cows is not
available, research has shown that there is a positive relationship
A maternal female in the Australian beef herd should get in calf,
between NFI EBVs and feed intake and feed efficiency of cows.
give birth unassisted to a live calf, raise that calf to weaning and
Simply put, selecting for more feed efficient animals using NFI
then get back in calf, all the while maintaining herself without
EBVs should also lead to more feed efficient cows.
needing to consume excessive amounts of feed. BREEDPLAN produces a number of EBVs which are of importance when
5. Other Traits
considering a maternal female; namely Days to Calving,
In addition to the BREEDPLAN traits discussed above, it
Scrotal Size, Gestation Length, Calving Ease Direct, Calving
is important to remember that there are other traits that
Ease Daughters, Birth Weight, Milk and Mature Cow Weight.
are important for a good maternal cow in the herd. A good
Ideally, a maternal female will have shorter Days to Calving
maternal cow must still have good structural soundness;
and Gestation Length EBVs than average (more negative EBVs
after all, she spends much of her life moving around the
are more desirable), while having larger Scrotal Size, Calving
paddock feeding and thus needs good foot and leg structure
Ease Direct and Calving Ease Daughters EBVs (more positive
to allow her to move about with ease. In addition, a cow with
EBVs are more desirable). She should also have a moderate
good structural soundness may last longer in the herd, thus
Birth Weight (lower or moderate EBVs being more desirable),
potentially improving her longevity in the breeding herd. In
and a moderate Mature Cow Weight (lower or moderate EBVs
a similar manner, a maternal cow should be in good general
being more desirable). The optimal Milk EBV will depend on
the environment, where producers in good country may prefer
While not strictly related to her maternal ability, the horn/poll
more positive Milk EBVs, while producers on more scrubby
status, genetic condition status and pedigree of the cow should
marginal country may prefer more moderate Milk EBVs.
also be a consideration. Keeping an eye on the pedigree of the cow (and the bull she is being mated to) allows producers to
For further information on using genetics to breed maternal
manage inbreeding in the herd at an acceptable level. Similarly,
females, or to further discuss any of the topics raised in this
producers may be interested in the genetic condition status of
article, please contact SBTS or TBTS.
Single-Step BREEDPLAN What Have We Learnt So Far? What have we observed so far?
By Professor Rob Banks Director, AGBU, UNE
Firstly, there are very small or negligible changes in the average
t’s now just on 12 months since singlestep methodology was introduced into BREEDPLAN evaluations. It
EBVs for basically all traits in all the breeds running Single-Step BREEDPLAN analyses.
started with Brahman back in May 2017,
This is what we would expect - because having the genotype
and since then the Hereford, Angus and Wagyu BREEDPLAN
information changes how much we know about the individuals, but
evaluations have switched over to implementing Single-Step
does not change the performance data on which the EBVs are based.
BREEDPLAN routinely. What have we seen so far, and what
This does not mean that there are no changes in animals’ EBVs
lessons are being learnt?
- some animals’ EBVs change (up or down) quite markedly.
Single-Step BREEDPLAN - the key points
But this reflects what the DNA is telling us about who those animals are genetically similar to, and this can change either
Single-Step BREEDPLAN refers to an expansion of the
due to detecting errors in pedigrees, and/or to detecting
BREEDPLAN analysis to include genotypes of animals. The genotypes - the DNA “read” - used in the Single-Step
genetic similarity to animals in the reference population.
BREEDPLAN analysis are from larger panels (e.g. a 50K panel)
Secondly, the accuracy of EBVs changes - on average modest increases
than those typically used only for DNA parentage verification
in accuracy are what we see. The increases are larger for animals with
or genetic condition tests.
genotypes than without, but all animals can get some increase.
The analysis method includes the genotype information, and
The amount of increase is not a constant across all traits - it
uses it to estimate the relationship between animals with
is larger for traits for which the genomic reference population
genotypes somewhat more precisely than can be achieved with
(the animals with genotypes and performance records) is
traditional pedigree alone. This means that the information
larger, and for traits that are more highly heritable. This applies
about animals obtained from their performance records is
to each of the breeds.
“shared” a little more precisely with other animals that have
The increases in accuracy also apply to animals that have
some relationship that is detectable at the level of the DNA i.e.
already got performance records as well as to those that don’t.
the SNP that we can see that they have in common.
In general terms, the increases in accuracy will be relatively
This feature means that EBVs on genotyped animals can be more
larger for animals without prior information - animals who’s
accurate than standard BREEDPLAN EBVs. This also means
EBVs before genomics had lower accuracy. To illustrate these
that animals can get EBVs for traits for which they themselves
increases in accuracy, the following table summarises average
have not been recorded. Whilst this has always been possible
changes in accuracy for different traits in 3 breeds, for animals
under standard BREEDPLAN (e.g. an animal has all Growth
with and without genotypes:
EBVs reporting but only has a 200 day weight recorded), by
Differences between breeds in the amount of average increase
reading the DNA, we can detect relationships or genetic
in accuracy reflect differences between breeds in the size of the
similarity to a greater extent than with pedigree relationships alone. How useful this is depends on the existence, size and
genomic reference population for each trait in each breed. For
composition of the genomic reference population - animals
example, the number of animals with records for days to calving
that have performance records and a genotype.
and genotypes is larger in Brahman than in Hereford.
Average increase in accuracy for animals with 0% prior accuracy
Average increase in accuracy for animals with 30% prior accuracy
Average increase in accuracy for animals with 0% prior accuracy
Average increase in accuracy for animals with 30% prior accuracy
Average increase in accuracy for animals with 0% prior accuracy
Average increase in accuracy for animals with 30% prior accuracy
200 Day Weight
Days to Calving*
*Note that there is insufficient performance data for Days to Calving in Wagyu for reliable EBVs. 13
Here again we can see a group of animals (highlighted with the orange arrow in the chart) that had identical 400 Day Weight EBVs in a standard BREEDPLAN analysis - a 400 Day Weight EBV of +28 - that have been spread apart in their 400 Day Weight EBV through Single-Step BREEDPLAN - now ranging from +12 to +34. Again, these animals are likely to be a group of full-sibs
Within a breed, the same thing applies relating to traits - traits with more records in the genomic reference population will see larger average increases in accuracy than traits with fewer records. Thirdly, the correlation between animals’ non-genomic EBV and genomic EBV is very high. We can see this in the example of Single-Step BREEDPLAN and standard BREEDPLAN EBVs for Days to Calving, for genotyped Brahman animals born in 2017 (below), and analysed in June 2018. The correlation between their Single-Step EBVs and EBVs from a standard Brahman BREEDPLAN analysis is 0.77 - this means that the animals with favourable EBVs from a non-genomic analysis will on average still rank well on a Single-step BREEDPLAN analysis. There is however some movement - some animals’ EBVs increase from standard BREEDPLAN to Single-Step BREEDPLAN, while other animals’ EBVs decrease.
without their own performance record. Note here that the correlation between the Single-Step BREEDPLAN and standard BREEDPLAN EBVs is higher -this reflects the combination of: n The heritability of 400 Day Weight is higher than that of Days to Calving. n Many of the animals could also have their own record for 400 day weight. n The genomic reference population for 400 day weight in Hereford may be larger than that for days to calving in Brahmans.
A very useful feature of the Single-Step BREEDPLAN analysis is apparent from the chart: there are a number of animals whose Days to Calving EBV would all be -7 under the standard BREEDPLAN analysis, that now have a spread of Days to Calving EBVs from +10 to -14 under Single- Step BREEDPLAN (shown by the orange arrow in the chart). These could be a group of animals with mid-parent EBVs - the Single-Step BREEDPLAN analysis drills into their genes more closely, and spreads their EBVs apart. This illustrates how genomics can help identify the animals with the best genes within a full-sib flush, for example.
Key Messages n Single-Step BREEDPLAN is producing EBVs, changes in EBVs and changes in accuracy that are in line with what we expect from the theory. n We are seeing modest increases in average EBV accuracy, somewhat larger for animals with genotypes than those without. n We are seeing useful increases in EBV accuracy for those animals whose prior accuracy is lower. n Single-Step BREEDPLAN EBVs line up well with standard BREEDPLAN EBVs - the average change is essentially zero; but individual animals can change their EBVs quite markedly. The relationship between Single-Step and standard BREEDPLAN EBVs is strong, reflected in high correlations between the two analyses. n The amount of increase in accuracy varies between breeds and traits, and reflects the size of the genomic reference population (the animals with genotypes and performance records).
We can make a similar chart for 400 Day Weight EBVs in Hereford, again for animals born in 2017 and with genotypes:
n Together, these mean that Single-Step BREEDPLAN provides an opportunity to evaluate young animals for more traits, depending of course on what has been recorded in the breed genomic reference population (what traits, how many animals). AGBU and ABRI are currently working with other breeds towards the implementation of Single-Step BREEDPLAN, with the most important considerations being the size and composition of the reference population, and whether we are confident that we can generate reliable genomic EBVs for the breed. The research includes developing the best approach to generating accurate genomic EBVs in breeds or populations that are mixtures of different original breeds. 14
The Repronomics Project Enabling Genetic Improvement in Reproduction in Northern Australia
eproduction is a key profit driver in northern Australia, with the Beef CRC Northern Reproduction project having shown that genetics has a clear role to play
in improving commercial weaning rates. Two of the traits identified as important for genetic improvement in fertility are heifer age at puberty and first-lactation anoestrus interval. The emerging technology of genomics also has the potential to add significantly to our ability to make genetic progress in reproduction. To maximise the rate of genetic improvement in reproduction traits, there is a need for considerably more reproductive phenotypes and genotypes to build the size of the genomic reference populations within the northern beef breeds. The Repronomics project, headed by Dr. David Johnston from
Figure 1. Properties involved in the Repronomics Project and breeds involved at each property.
the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (ABGU) in Armidale and funded by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), aims to address
this need. The Repronomics project is generating significant
Both AI sires and naturally-mated backup bulls have been used
numbers of calves and recording large numbers of females for
to generate progeny for the Repronomics project. The sires
age at puberty, lactation anoestrus interval, calving and weaning
selected for the project have been chosen as they are currently
rates, along with many other traits in three major northern beef
influential in each of the breeds (i.e. widely used sires with a
breeds. SNP genotypes are also being collected on all project
large number of progeny generated in the last five years). In
animals, as well as key industry animals. When combined with
addition, some emerging young sires have been used in each
the phenotype records described above, this dataset will drive
breed. Particular emphasis has been placed on selecting sires
new genomics enhanced BREEDPLAN evaluations.
which have no or limited numbers of daughters recorded for reproduction traits in BREEDPLAN. The aim is to generate 15-
Location and Breeds
20 daughters from each sire and intensively record them for
The Repronomics project involves three breeds, namely
early reproduction. For Droughtmasters, a selection of older
Brahman, Droughtmaster and Santa Gertrudis. The project
sires has also been used to allow estimation of breed genetic
is being conducted on two Queensland Department of
parameters, particularly for female reproduction traits. To-
Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) research facilities, being Brian Pastures near Gayndah and Spyglass near Charters Towers,
date, the project has generated progeny on over 300 sires.
and the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry
Females Generated and Key Trait Recording
and Fisheriesâ€™ Douglas Daly Research Farm, Daly River (Figure
Currently the project has generated approximately 5,500 calves
1). The project is also utilizing industry seedstock herds located
from six year drops. Breeding is by natural mating for maidens
and first-lactation cows. The majority of older cows have
The Brian Pastures and Spyglass herds consist of pedigree and
been used for AI (2 rounds fixed-time program) to generate
performance recorded females, and include a proportion of ex-
progeny on the key industry sires, and although the project has
Beef CRC cows used as base females that are fully BREEDPLAN
experienced below average seasonal conditions in the first two
recorded. At Brian Pastures, all three breeds are present,
years, the resultant calving rates to AI have been very good,
whereas at Spyglass there are Brahman and Droughtmasters.
At each location, the breeds are managed and recorded together and are only separated into individual breeds during
Real-time ultrasound is performed on a regular basis on all
a 12 week mating period. This is providing unique data for the
females to accurately determine the follicle development, and
future development of across-breed EBVs.
importantly, the presence of a corpus luteum (CL). Every year 15
the cohort of maiden heifers are regularly scanned to determine age at observed CL (Figure 2) which is used as a measure of age at puberty for each heifer. All first-lactation cows are also regularly scanned during the mating season to determine their time to return to cycling post-calving. Post-weaning all noncycling females continue to be scanned until a CL is observed. To-date the project has recorded more than 2,500 heifers on the research station herds for age at puberty and about 1,500 first-lactation cows for their anoestrus interval. All females are regularly recorded for body weight, hip height, body condition score, subcutaneous fat depth, and eye muscle area. At calving, each cow is scored for calving ease, teat and udder score, maternal behavior and body condition. All performance data is sent to ABRI and uploaded on to the northern multi-breed research database.
Collecting Ovarian and Carcase scanning data at Brian Pastures.
The aim is to include the Repronomics data in the individual
the female recording at the research stations, and completes
breed BREEDPLAN evaluations; this is currently underway
the suite of key profit driver traits for northern beef production
and it is expected that this data will be available in the individual breed BREEDPLAN evaluations in the near future.
Enabling Genomic Selection
To enable the development of genomic selection, all females
The existing BREEBPLAN analysis allows differences in phenotypic performance to be used in the known relativeâ€™s
have been DNA parent verified and genotyped with a 25K SNP
analysis, whereas the single-step evaluation will allow genetic
chip, while all project sires are genotyped with an 80K Bos
differences between individuals to be influenced through
indicus SNP chip. Large numbers of seedstock animals have
their degree of genomic relationship. Therefore animals with
also been genotyped, including sires in co-operator industry
large amounts of phenotypic information when genotyped
herds and other sires in Brahman and Santa Gertrudis with
will influence the EBVs and accuracies of any animal that is
high accuracy BREEDPLAN Day to Calving EBVs.
As the genetic evaluations of the tropical breeds move towards
The Douglas Daly male calves remain entire, whereas the Brian
Single-Step BREEDPLAN methodology, the data and research
Pastures and Spyglass bull calves are castrated at branding.
outcomes from the Repronomics project will be pivotal in
After weaning, these steers are sold to the Northern BIN
driving forward the new genetic evaluation. The project is also
project. The steers are grown-out and recorded for post-
generating phenotypes and genotypes on current industry-
weaning performance and subsequent full abattoir carcase and
relevant genetics and this provides the northern breeding
meat quality assessments. The steer recording complements
industry with the unique opportunity to implement genomic selection, increasing the accuracy of selection of young bulls, particularly for important female reproduction traits. Conclusion Levels of recording of the project-generated females are increasing and the data is feeding into new BREEDPLAN evaluations that will enable tropical breeds to make genetic change in improving female reproduction rates. The project has uniquely recorded herds that will allow genetics to be compared across environments, and will be a powerful resource enabling industry herds to be benchmarked for reproduction traits, as well as many other traits including overall genetic merit. Finally, the head-tohead management of breeds will provide the necessary data to
Figure 2. Cumulative frequencies of first observed CL from regular ovarian scanning of the 2014 drop Spyglass heifers weaned mid-2014.
generate across-breed genomic EBVs for large numbers of traits. 16
Lessons from the 2018 World Congress for Genetics Applied to Livestock Production
n February, SBTS staff attended the 11th World Congress for Genetics Applied to Livestock Production which was held in Auckland, New Zealand. This congress is the premier
thanked all of those that have supported the project, including
event for researchers, extension and other industry personnel
businesses. It was very satisfying to present our work, field
involved in the genetic improvement of livestock including
questions and see how the project matched up against the
cattle, sheep, goats, deer, horses, poultry and aquaculture. The
work and experiences of others engaged in similar activities.
the stakeholders and their staff and all of the individual beef producers who have welcomed us into their homes and
World Congress is held every four years with 1480 delegates
Some of key messages, relevant to Australian cattle producers,
from around the world attending to listen and learn from the
to come out of the congress were:
753 scientific papers presented in 2018.
The SBTS staff were kept extremely busy presenting our
For livestock industries using genomic information in their genetic evaluations, single-step is the standard
own papers, learning from the latest developments and
methodology being adopted. The main reason for this is
experiences, meeting with representatives from various
that single-step allows the estimation of more accurate
organisations including breed societies and DNA testing
breeding values for animals that were previously affected
companies, and networking with colleagues involved in
by a lack of data and/or poor data structure. These include
livestock genetics extension around the world. Papers
animals that are too young to have certain traits recorded,
presented by SBTS and BREEDPLAN research scientists
traits that are hard and/or expensive to measure and
at AGBU covered implementing Single-Step BREEDPLAN
animals in small contemporary groups (e.g. sick animals,
evaluations, evaluating sperm abnormality traits, the effect of
show team or ET progeny).
the environment on breeding objectives and the SBTS project.
Even though the single-step methodology is becoming well established, there is still a lot of research and development
The SBTS paper was titled “Southern Beef Technology
going on in this space. The BREEDPLAN staff and
Services: Eleven Years of Facilitating Genetic Improvement
researchers in attendance were certainly taking note of
in the Southern Australian Beef Industry” and can be found
what new and exciting directions this may take us in the
at the following link https://bit.ly/2taX9tq. The paper covered
the extension activities and impact of the project, including some metrics illustrating the knowledge gained by breeders
as a result of participating in SBTS activities. SBTS also
Quality genetic evaluations still require large quantities of accurate trait data. One theme from the Congress was
WCGALP 2018 wasn’t just about the presentations. Here’s a photo from the beef field trip, where we had the opportunity to look at the NZ beef industry and some of the research projects that are currently underway 17
Catriona presents the SBTS paper entitled “Southern Beef Technology Services: Eleven Years of Facilitating Genetic Improvement in the Southern Australian Beef Industry” at WCGALP2018.
selection for hard and/or expensive to measure traits. These included feed efficiency, carcase, fertility and methane emissions traits. The unanimous conclusion was that even with the inclusion of genomic data into genetic evaluations, quality recording of traits remains vitally important to the accuracy of the analyses. n
One cattle paper identified that each individual in their study had approximately 120 recessive deleterious alleles (gene copies). The presence of so many of these deleterious alleles illustrates one of the dangers of inbreeding, as inbred progeny risk being affected by a genetic condition after inheriting the recessive allele from both parents. The ability to use genomic data to calculate the levels of inbreeding present in individuals was a potential future development also discussed at the congress. It is thought that this will be more accurate than the current method, which calculates the level of inbreeding based on the presence of common ancestors in a pedigree.
The same study also found that, on average, 64.2 new mutations were found in each individual that were not found in either parent. These new mutations were not all deleterious; in fact some were likely to be beneficial and the majority had no identifiable effect. This is an exciting finding as it means that there is always new variation to be exploited in the next generation(s).
Our mid conference tour visited Storth Oaks Angus at Otorohanga, where we heard from a variety of presenters
including Beef and Lamb NZ Beef Genetics Manager Max Tweedie, American Angus Director of Genetic Research Stephen Miller and Storth Oaks stud principal Tim Brittain. SBTS was impressed with the format of the 2017 Storth Oaks sale catalogue. Find out more in the article ‘Using the EBV Percentile Graph in Sale Catalogues’ in this edition of the SBTS & TBTS Update.
Brad Crook (BREEDPLAN) reviewing the different genetic evaluation methodologies that are being applied around the world at WCGALP 2018.
Talking Genetics at BEEF 2018
SBTS and TBTS staff recently had the pleasure of once again being involved in the triennial beef industry showcase event, Beef Australia, held in Rockhampton
on 7-11 May. A week-long trade stall in the Durack Pavilion played host to invaluable conversations between staff and producers, along with industry service providers, from around the world. It was encouraging to have numerous seedstock producers (both new and long-standing) reach out and wanting to learn more about the benefits of BREEDPLAN and what exactly is involved in terms of submitting data, contemporary groups etc. Close to 20 SBTS & TBTS publications were on display for visitors to take, along with breed specific documents and technical tip sheets made available to meet enquiry needs.
Kaiuroo property tour
On Monday 7th, the TBTS team were out kicking the dirt on-farm speaking as part of concurrent property tours. Paul Williams delivered a presentation and provided a scanning demonstration (ovarian and carcase) at the platinum Kaiuroo tour, hosted by Jennifer McCamley and Tom Emmery. Eighteen individuals took part in the full day tour which showcased the Kaiuroo MDC project, the Repronomics and BIN projects, scanning demos, along with in-depth conversations around genetic technologies and genomics. Tim Emery was involved in presenting to the 100-strong crowd (which included 30 Argentinians) that attended the Mt Elsa property tour, hosted by Steve and Claire Farmer. The group were split into two, with one session predominantly focused on irrigated pastures and the Wagyu crossbreeding program, and the other on data collection, genetics focused research project
Mt Elsa property tour
findings and genetic technologies. Tim spoke specifically about BREEDPLAN and genetic progress in the SC Grazing Droughtmaster herd. Many thanks must go to Paul Williams for representing our extension team on the Westpac property tours organising committee. Throughout the week, staff attended a handful of seminars relating to genetics and reproduction, visited trade areas relevant to the breeds they service (Boyd Gudex gave a BREEDPLAN presentation to Limousin breeders), took part in events (such as the book launch for Sale-O and Smokos) and meetings, and attended networking functions to establish new networks and build on existing ones. Once again, our collective team thoroughly enjoyed chatting with beef producers and industry service providers from across the globe at Beef 2018 and canâ€™t wait to be back in 2021!
SBTS & TBTS stand in the Durack pavilion
BREEDPLAN Discussion Group Now on Facebook
re you on Facebook? If you are, come and join us in the BREEDPLAN Discussion Group. SBTS & TBTS, together with BREEDPLAN, set up the BREEDPLAN
Discussion Group in late May 2018. The group is intended to be an online community where members can discuss BREEDPLAN, share opinions, ask
your state that scan their cattle may be able to point you in the
questions and engage with each other. You don’t have to be
right direction. You won’t find these things out unless you ask.
a BREEDPLAN member to join this group - we expect the group will appeal to a mix of cattle producers, from long-term
We also expect the group will provide direction for some of
BREEDPLAN members through to those that are considering
our extension initiatives - if there is a particular topic you
joining BREEEDPLAN, and other beef industry personnel.
would like to learn more about, let us know! While we will still
Ideally, we would like to see this group become a hub for
advertise upcoming events on the SBTS & TBTS Facebook page, information on upcoming events will also be available
asking questions and learning from other producers - someone in another breed, state or country might have a great way of
through the BREEDPLAN Discussion Group.
doing something on their property (e.g. a certain method they
The BREEDPLAN Discussion Group administrators are
use to record birth weight) which you can adapt for your own
Catriona Millen (SBTS) and Samantha Rawson (BREEDPLAN).
To join us, search ‘BREEDPLAN Discussion Group’ on
You might be uncertain about which ultrasound scanners
Facebook or enter the following address into your browser:
come to your state, and when they will be there - others from
Get Social With SBTS & TBTS SOCIAL MEDIA
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 SBTS & TBTS Facebook account at http:// facebook.com/SBTSTBTS, Twitter account at http://twitter.
com/SBTSTBTS or YouTube Channel at http://youtube.com/ user/sbtstbts.
TBTS Visits Western Australia
n February Paul (TBTS) was in Western Australia to present at the Gingin Beef Cattle field day held at Cundarra Santa Gertrudis stud. The day was run by the Western Australian
Santa Gertrudis Breeders Branch and attracted around 70 people from all over the state. Other speakers included Jarrod Lees from MLA who discussed MSA and the DEXA technology. Paulâ€™s presentation included an overview of the traits for which BREEDPLAN EBVs are available and how these EBVs are interpreted. Paul then showed how EBVs provide an accurate prediction of the differences in progeny performance, using results from the Brahman and Northern BIN projects
Attendees at Gingin Beef Cattle field day, Cundarra Santa Gertrudis stud.
to do so. To demonstrate this, the average EBVs of the top 5 bulls and the bottom 5 bulls was shown for a number of traits, and the expected differences in progeny performance (as calculated from the EBVs) were compared to the actual observed differences in progeny performance. As shown in the 400 day weight example in Figure 1, the observed differences in progeny performance were very similar to the differences you would expect to see when calculating progeny performance from the EBVs of the sires. Paul also highlighted the increase in EBV accuracy as a result of data collected in the BIN projects; showing the increase in accuracy of the BIN sireâ€™s EBVs from the start of the project and after the inclusion of the BIN data in the BREEDPLAN analysis. Paul also gave an update on several of the genetic research projects currently underway in Northern Australia. These
Figure 1. The observed (17 kg) and expected (17.5 kg) difference in steer progeny performance for the top 5 and bottom 5 sires for 400 Day Weight in the Banana co-operator herd from the Brahman BIN project.
include the Brahman BIN, Northern BIN and Repronomics projects. An overview of the projects and preliminary results were presented to the audience for both fertility and carcase traits.
south of Perth. Discussions were focused on the submission
While in WA, Paul also conducted herd visits starting at Gingin
of joining data and collection of flight time data with the flight
then traveling to Northampton and finally down to Bunbury
time machine Paul took with him.
Australian Gelbvieh Association Re-join SBTS Project
n February 2018, the Australian Gelbvieh Association re-joined the SBTS project as a stakeholder breed society. The Australian Gelbvieh Association was last a SBTS stakeholder in 2016, during a previous phase of the SBTS
project. The decision by the Australian Gelbvieh Association to re-join the project brings the total number of breed society stakeholders involved in the SBTS project to 14. SBTS welcomes the Australian Gelbvieh Association as a stakeholder breed society, and looks forward to working with Gelbvieh breeders in the future. 21
SBTS Facilitates Regional Forums and BullSELECT Workshops in Western Australia
BTS facilitated three BullSELECT workshops for Western Australian bull buyers in January 2018. The BullSELECT workshops were an initiative of Western
Beef Association Inc., a not-for-profit industry group, based in WA, which fosters independent and progressive upskilling activities. While in WA, SBTS also took the opportunity to present three Regional Forums to seedstock producers. The program for these forums was the same as for those held in the eastern states in 2017. Regional Forums The Regional Forums were held at Albany, Bunbury and Perth and were attended by 38 people. The attendees represented over 30% of the WA BREEDPLAN herds from SBTS & TBTS stakeholder breed societies. This was an amazing turnout given the proximity of the forums to both the summer holidays and the bull sale season in WA. Overall feedback indicated that these Regional Forums were well received. 94% of attendees rated the Regional Forums as excellent or very good, while 82% stated that they would be extremely or very likely to attend a Regional Forum in the future. When asked, 100% of attendees said that they felt they had a better understanding of BREEDPLAN following their
the biggest improvements made in relation to interpreting the
attendance at the Regional Forum.
Completeness of Performance reports and in understanding
A measure of learning outcomes from the Regional Forums
was obtained by asking attendees the same set of questions both before and after the Regional Forum. By comparing the
percentage of correct answers before and after the forum, we
The BullSELECT workshops were hosted by Venturon
saw that attendees displayed a 41% increase in knowledge, with
Charolais at Boyup Brook, Kingslane Red Angus at Benger and Koojan Hills Angus & Melaleuca Murray Greys at Manypeaks. Approximately 100 people attended the workshops. The BullSELECT workshops combined practical discussion and yard demonstrations to educate beef producers about how best to utilise BREEDPLAN information when making animal selection decisions. Bulls were also on hand to demonstrate the difficulty in visually assessing the genetics of an animal without EBVs. Judging by the uncertainty as to which bull had the better genetics for various traits, this very effectively demonstrated the need for consideration of both visual traits and EBVs when making selection decisions. 22
Audience feedback revealed that 91% of attendees rated the BullSELECT workshops as excellent or very good. Importantly, 96% of attendees said that as a result of the BullSELECT workshop, they had a better understanding of how to use BREEDPLAN information when making purchasing decisions. Additionally, 84% of attendees said they were more likely to use BREEDPLAN information when making purchasing decisions. BullSELECT learning outcomes showed that attendee knowledge increased by almost a quarter. The biggest improvements in knowledge were made in relation to interpreting EBVs and using selection indexes. SBTS gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the host herds, Western Beef Inc. and Accioly Livestock Industries Services (ALIS) to the successful running of the BullSELECT Workshops.
Help Your Clients to Purchase the Right Bulls with a BullSELECT Workshop
o you want to help your clients select bulls with the optimum genetics for their breeding objectives? Host a BullSELECT workshop and SBTS and TBTS will show
Now being offered at a reduced price, the BullSELECT workshop is available to: n
your clients how. The one day BullSELECT workshop combines
practical discussions and yard demonstrations to educate beef
producers about how best to utilise BREEDPLAN information
Facilitated by SBTS and TBTS staff, the BullSELECT workshop
Interpreting and understanding BREEDPLAN EBVs and
For further information, please see the BullSELECT brochure and example program (available on the SBTS and TBTS websites via the provided links). Alternatively, please contact staff at SBTS or TBTS.
Selection Indexes n
Using online searches to source the right genetics
Private consultants and State Government Departments who wish to educate clients or local producers
covers: Understanding the value of genetics
Breeder and producer groups who wish to educate their members
when making animal selection decisions and purchasing bulls.
Individual seedstock producers who wish to educate their
BROCHURE LINK http://sbts.une.edu.au/pdfs/BullSELECT.pdf
bull selection exercises using demonstration
EXAMPLE PROGRAM LINK http://sbts.une.edu.au/pdfs/BullSELECT_WorkshopProgram.pdf
cattle, including a Mock Auction 23
2018 REGIONAL FORUMS TBTS is running a regional forum in Rockhampton, QLD in August 2018.
THE COST TO ATTEND A REGIONAL FORUM IS: n
The regional forum will cover a number of important topics, including an update on the inclusion of genomic information in BREEDPLAN. There will also be several interactive sessions, where attendees will have the opportunity to reflect upon the amount of performance recording achieved for their own herd, and also to investigate whether they are making genetic progress and meeting their own breeding objectives. n
A program is provided on the following page and gives an overview of the sessions to be presented at the regional forum.
$35* for members of an TBTS or SBTS Stakeholder Breed Society TBTS = Belmont Red, Brahman, Brangus, Droughtmaster, Santa Gertrudis, Senepol & Simbrah. SBTS = Blonde dâ€™Aquitaine, Charolais, Devon, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Murray Grey, Red Angus, Red Poll, Salers, Shorthorn, Simmental, Speckle Park & Wagyu. $70* for those that are not members of an TBTS or SBTS Stakeholder Breed Society This includes members of other Breed Societies and other industry representatives.
*Includes 30c non-refundable booking fee.
Morning tea and lunch will be provided
Numbers for the regional forum are limited, so be quick to ensure that you secure a place. To register, please go to https://www.trybooking.com/WWBZ
For catering purposes please register by 24th August 2018.
8.45 am - 3.30 pm
QDAF - Rockhampton
For Further Information Contact Paul Williams TBTS Technical OďŹƒcer Website: http://tbts.une.edu.au
Phone: (07) 4927 6066 Mobile: 0427 018 982 Email: email@example.com
2018 REGIONAL FORUMS || PROGRAM 2018 REGIONAL FORUMS PROGRAM TIME TIME
8.45 am 8.45 am
9.00 am 9.00 am
9.15 am 9.15 am
BREEDPLAN 101: Recording Performance BREEDPLAN 101: Recording Information In Your Herd Performance Information In Your Herd
10.00 am 10.00 am
BREEDPLAN Contemporary Groups & Genetic Linkage BREEDPLAN Contemporary Groups & Genetic Linkage
10.40 am 10.40 am
Morning Tea Morning Tea
11.00 am 11.00 am
Making BREEDPLAN Work For You: Common Performance Making BREEDPLAN For You: Common Recording Problems Work and How to Avoid ThemPerformance Recording Problems and How to Avoid Them
12.00 pm 12.00 pm
How Much Performance Data Do You Collect? How Much Performance Data DoofYou Collect? Report Interpreting Your Completeness Performance Interpreting Your Completeness of Performance Report
12.45 pm 12.45 pm
1.30 pm 1.30 pm
Are You Making Progress? Are You Making Interpreting YourProgress? Genetic Progress Report Interpreting Your Genetic Progress Report
2.15 pm 2.15 pm
Single Step BREEDPLAN: What Does Genomics Mean For You? Single Step BREEDPLAN: What Does Genomics Mean For You?
3.15 pm 3.15 pm
Closing Remarks Closing Remarks
For Further Information Contact For Further Information Contact
Paul Williams TBTS Technical Oﬃcer Paul Williams Website: http://tbts.une.edu.au TBTS Technical Oﬃcer
Phone: (07) 4927 6066 Mobile: 04274927 018 6066 982 Phone: (07) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 0427 018 982
Locations of BREEDPLAN Members of SBTS & TBTS Stakeholder Breed Societies
igures 1 and 2 show the locations of BREEDPLAN members of SBTS & TBTS stakeholder breed societies around Australia and New Zealand (please note that
As you can see from these maps, there would be little point in
New Zealand herds are members of Australian-based breed
Instead, we will utilise these maps to find the best locations for
holding a SBTS & TBTS Regional Forum in Broome, WA or Coober Pedy, SA.
SBTS & TBTS events, and to ensure that events are central to
While it is interesting to see where herds are based, these maps
as many herds in the area as possible.
play a greater role than just satisfying curiosity. These maps also
This is just one of the reasons that it is essential that you keep
play a critical role when we are planning SBTS & TBTS events.
your contact details up to date with your breed societies.
Figure 1. Locations of BREEDPLAN members of SBTS stakeholder breed societies.
Figure 2. Locations of BREEDPLAN members of TBTS stakeholder breed societies. 26
Speckle Park & Senepol Upgrade to ILR2 Software
n 2018, both Speckle Park International and the Australian Senepol Cattle Breeders Association upgraded the software used to manage their pedigree and performance database
Furthermore, a GROUP BREEDPLAN analysis means that
to ABRI’s new generation of breed registry software known as
nor Days to Calving EBVs are available in a Within-Herd
BREEDPLAN analysis, but, with a sufficient number of records,
A consequence of the upgrade to the new software is the
are options in GROUP BREEDPLAN analyses. There will also
there is the opportunity for EBVs for additional traits to be published in the future. For example, neither Calving Ease
be the potential to create BreedObject selection indexes for
transition for both Speckle Park International and the
Australian Senepol Cattle Breeders Association to conduct GROUP BREEDPLAN analyses.
Previously breeders in
A second advantage of the upgrade to the new software is the
these associations had their own Within-Herd BREEDPLAN
production of enhanced BREEDPLAN herd reports. These,
analyses. A GROUP BREEDPLAN analysis has the advantage
along with the opportunity to conduct GROUP BREEDPLAN
of allowing breeders to benchmark their animals relative to the
analyses, will significantly enhance the BREEDPLAN service
rest of the breed (and not just relative to the rest of the herd as
that is provided to members of Speckle Park BREEDPLAN and
is the case in a Within-Herd analysis).
Optimise Joining Using MateSel
eedstock producers in Australia who are members of a breed society with a published Selection Index are encouraged to consider using the MateSel mating
Diversity”, “Balanced” or “High Genetic Gain” and providing
optimisation tool when planning their upcoming joinings.
details of their desired breeding objective.
MateSel creates additional genetic progress within a breeding
MateSel analysis are returned
program by generating a suggested mating list from a list of
promptly, usually within one working day.
sires and dams that a seedstock producer nominates as being available for use within their upcoming joining program.
MateSel is a valuable addition to the BREEDPLAN suite of
MateSel not only allows seedstock producers to maximise
tools that are offered by the Agricultural Business Research
genetic progress whilst managing inbreeding, but will also save
Institute (ABRI) in Armidale, NSW.
significant time previously spent compiling mating lists.
Seedstock members interested in learning more about MateSel
MateSel is fully customised to the breeding program of each
should visit the BREEDPLAN website (http://breedplan.une.
individual seedstock operation with the seedstock producer
edu.au) and click on the MateSel icon on the right hand side,
choosing acceptable inbreeding limits by selecting one of three
or contact staff at SBTS or TBTS. 27
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:
email@example.com T (02) 6773 1711 M 0437 468 159
Blonde dâ€™Aquitaine Charolais Devon Gelbvieh Hereford Murray Grey
Red Angus Red Poll Salers Shorthorn Speckle Park
Belmont Red Brahman Brangus Droughtmaster
Santa Gertrudis Senepol Simbrah
Belmont Red Brahman Brangus Droughtmaster
Santa Gertrudis Senepol Simbrah
firstname.lastname@example.org T (02) 6773 3357 M 0409 102 644
email@example.com T (07) 4927 6066 M 0427 018 982
firstname.lastname@example.org M 0408 707 155
email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://tbts.une.edu.au
Southern Beef Technology Services Telephone: (02) 6773 3555 Email: email@example.com Web: http://sbts.une.edu.au 28