A milestone was reached on the 12th August 2016 with the birth of the 6,000th calf from Cohort 6 of the Angus Sire Benchmarking Program (ASBP). This male calf was born at co-operator herd “Springmount”, Black Mountain NSW to sire Hardhat GM Grass Range Y21 J518.
The ASBP commenced in 2010 with the first calves born in 2011, known as Cohort 1. Angus Australia is currently undertaking fixed time AI programs for Cohort 7, with calves to be born in the spring of 2017.
Given this milestone, and the duration of the ASBP, it is timely to reflect on the objectives of this industry leading project and the information collated and analysed to date.
As background, the ASBP is a major initiative of Angus Australia with support from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and industry partners such as Vetoquinol, Rangers Valley Feedlot and John Dee Abattoir. The objectives of the ASBP are:
1. Generate progeny test data on modern Angus bulls, particularly for hard to measure traits such as feed efficiency, abattoir carcase measurement, meat quality attributes & female reproduction.
2. Generate data for the validation & refinement of Angus TACE.
3. Build a comprehensive phenotype and genotype database on Australian Angus for genomic technology validation, research and development.
To achieve all three project objectives a comprehensive phenotypic and genomic database based on modern Angus genetics is required. Accordingly, a summary of the linear trait data recorded across all ASBP Cohorts to date, and analysed through Angus TACE and ASBP Progeny Performance reports, shows the depth of information available. This is particularly evident for the hard to measure traits such as abattoir carcase data, feed Intake and daughter fertility from natural matings (Table 1).
Table 1 – Summary of linear trait data recorded in the ASBP
A range of categorical traits have also been recorded on ASBP progeny (Table 2). Several of these are currently analysed through Angus TACE such as Docility, Calving Difficulty and the feet and leg structural traits.
Table 2 – Summary of Categorical trait data recorded in the ASBP
Importantly, DNA has also been collected on all progeny with genomic profiles ascertained and stored on the Angus Australia database. ASBP progeny have a low density genomic profile stored with an average of 18,438 SNPs (i.e. gene markers). More recently tested calves (e.g. Cohort 5) have an average of 25,798 SNPs showing the transition to more SNPs being included on the low density genomic platforms.
In conjunction with efforts of progressive Angus Australia members, the continually building Angus Australia phenotypic and genomic database, including the rich ASBP dataset, will underpin Angus Australia’s genetics research and development both now and into the future.
Pictured above: The 6000th Calf Born in the ASBP at “Springmount”, Black Mountain NSW to Sire Hardhat Gm Grass Range Y21 J518.