Central Queensland University

04/17/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/16/2018 23:12

Genetics research addresses beef performance

CQUniversity researchers are addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the beef industry - increasing uptake of genetic performance recording in extensive beef production systems in Northern Australia.

Based at AgForce's Belmont Research Station, the research is being conducted in collaboration with the Meat & Livestock Australia Donor Company and will feature the integration of CQUni's sensor systems for use in industry performance recording programs.

The participation in performance-recorded genetics in the north is in part limited by the challenge of collecting accurate, BREEDPLAN compliant, performance data due to the time and cost involved of mustering and measuring animals in extensive systems to collect data. This challenge is particularly acute for more difficult to record data such as birth dates and birth weights - the very traits that have the potential to have the greatest positive impact on production.

CQUni's genetics research project will test the use of Automated Livestock Management Systems (ALMS) to simplify collection of critical performance data to aid greater adoption of performance recording and genetic evaluations in northern Australia.

CQUniversity's Precision Livestock Management team leader, Professor Dave Swain, says ALMS can provide more accurate, more frequent and more reliable measures of performance than traditional methods.

'The opportunity to more efficiently and economically record performance traits will not only increase the number of animals that can have recognised EBVs through BREEDPLAN but will also provide a greater number of cattle that are available as a reference population for genomic evaluation,' Prof. Swain said.

Belmont Research Station will act as a 'hub' of intensive research activity to be linked with a series of producer-owned 'spokes' to ensure high-quality research, direct engagement and participation with end-users and an efficient vehicle for extension to producers and industry. There are a number of producers that have already expressed interest in participating in the project in order to more efficiently and accurately identify genetically superior breeding stock.

ALMS will be a highlight of CQUniversity's Beef Australia 2018 Property Tour of Belmont, which will also take in the neighbouring Beef Breeding Services (BBS).

BBS handles semen collection and fixed time artificial insemination technologies designed to accelerate genetic improvement. With more than half the sperm stored in a frozen semen straw unlikely to survive, each straw is designed to contain a minimum of 25 million progressively motile sperm to ensure a high likelihood of pregnancy in artificially inseminated cows.