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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2009
CA TTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA YEARBOOK 2009 Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association In 2008 the Australian registered cattle industry achieved a significant milestone. In October, the first trial marker-assisted EBVs were released for tenderness in Brahman cattle. That is, DNA markers were combined with phenotypic records for the first time to predict genetic performance within the BREEDPLAN system. T he registered beef cattle industry has traditionally relied on pedigrees and phenotypic performance records to make selection decisions that achieve genetic progress. And, of course, the breeders of registered cattle make their living out of selling cattle genetics that will improve the production and profitability of their clients’ commercial herds. So it has always been in the best interests of registered breeders to be able to maximise the superiority of the genetics they sell, and with increasing on-farm input costs there has never been a more important time for genetics to play a key part in sustainable beef production. In recent years there have been very rapid developments in the ability of scientists and commercial companies to identify DNA markers for genes that directly affect production. The third round of the Beef CRC is focussed on the new genetic technologies that arise from genotyping cattle. Companies such as Pfizer and Merial have also entered the new field of DNA testing. Since 2002, ARCBA has been promoting the need to develop quality standards for beef cattle exported for breeding. 2008 saw the completion of the Smart Gene for Beef project. This combined the skills of Catapult Genetics (now Pfizer Animal Genetics), the Beef CRC, the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) and Cornell University to assess a number of gene markers for beef cattle for their utility in moving us towards marker-assisted Estimated Breeding Values (EBVms). That is, the project is combining new genomics technologies with traditional EBV technologies to produce enhanced EBVs. This project was backed financially by the Queensland Government and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). 80 ARCBA convened a cattle genomics seminar at the Ekka in Brisbane on August 6, 2008 to release the results of the SmartGene for Beef project and explain these results to industry. The Seminar was booked out a month in advance. Four separate markers were evaluated for marbling, net feed efficiency and tenderness. The markers of the first two traits proved to be uninformative but the tenderness markers did explain a small percentage of phenotypic variation. In October, trial marker-assisted EBVs for Brahman were calculated by the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) and released at Brahman Week in Rockhampton. This genomics technology is developing rapidly and as the panels include more DNA markers it will be possible to calculate EBVms for more traits and with greater accuracy than at present. Certified exports in produCtion Since 2002, ARCBA has been promoting the need to develop quality standards for beef cattle exported for breeding. This was the subject of ARCBA’s major seminar in 2007. The Commonwealth Government backed this vision with an Action Grant that in 2008 saw export standards developed for a wide range of Australian beef cattle breeds. In 2008, around 5,500 beef cattle were shipped to Russia with export certificates that provide buyers with assurance that the cattle comply with official standards. ARCBA is now liaising closely with LiveCorp, MLA and breed societies to develop a strategy for promoting the standards and the certification process worldwide. registrations strong Despite poor seasonal conditions, the registered industry has shown its resilience by recording 201,892 registrations in 2008. This is the second highest level of registrations in the last 12 years. Dr. P.A. Rickards OAM Executive Director Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association 1117_CCA Yearbook 2009.indd 80 5/5/09 8:01:41 PM